Daniel Nemukuyu Harare Bureau
AT least 3,000 teachers have been struck off the pay sheet and did not receive their July salaries because they were not present at their work stations when the government conducted a head-count of personnel in April this year.
The physical count of teachers and other employees was meant to remove ghost workers from the payroll.
Most of the teachers who went home empty-handed were on study leave, maternity leave, vacational leave and sick leave, while others had travelled after communicating with their superiors.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday confirmed the non-payment of the teachers, saying at least 3,000 serving staff countrywide had lodged complaints.
“According to our records, some 3,000 teachers have complained of not receiving their July salaries,” he said. “The actual figure could be much higher, but so far that’s the number that we have.
“We’re actually mesmerised, worried and annoyed as the reasons for the non-payment aren’t good enough.”
Ndlovu said Zimta received information that the unpaid teachers were not present when the audit was done in April, hence they were erroneously regarded as ghost workers.
He said Zimta was demanding an explanation from the government why the “innocent and serving” teachers were struck off the pay sheet.
“Maybe it’s government’s strategy to cut its payroll, but it’s a fatal and wrong strategy because innocent and loyal teachers some who were on study leave or sick leave were unjustifiably struck off,” said Ndlovu.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe said his union had received 318 complaints.
“Some said they were on maternity leave, study leave, while others had communicated with their respective superiors before travelling,” he said.
Majongwe said PTUZ would engage the government next week to map the way forward.
Our Harare Bureau understands that at Pfumojena Primary School in Chegutu, five teachers went home empty-handed, while five others at Biriri High School in Chimanimani did not receive their salaries.
At Rusitu High School in Chimanimani, two teachers were removed from the payroll.
One of the teachers who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “I was on study leave and I’m doing my post-graduate Diploma in Education at Midlands State University.
“I was shocked to discover that my salary had been cut. We’ve been asked to depose some affidavits explaining where we were at the time of the audit, but that’ll take time while our families are starving.”
Efforts to get a comment from Public Service Commission officials were fruitless yesterday.
The government in April embarked on the civil service audit in an effort to establish the size of its workforce. The exercise was also meant to help contain the huge wage bill gobbling more than 80 percent of the National Budget.
The exercise to trim the workers, which was initiated by the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare began with a head-count in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.