How many teachers are there in Zimbabwe?

No one seemed to know the number of teachers in Zimbabwe when the inclusive government was formed three years ago, and this could still be the situation today as the government insists there are 75 000 ghost workers.

The permanent secretary for education said there were 94 000 teachers officially.

Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union said there were only 40 to 50 000 teachers.

He said there was an additional 30 000 youths most of whom were active in the violent youths militias during the 2008 election who were now on the government payroll as teachers.

He said 70 to 80 percent of the teachers were not qualified and were appointed on nepotism.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said there were 130 000 teachers on the books.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE246, ZIM EDUCATION STILL IN LIMBO AS TEACHERS THREATEN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE246

2009-03-23 12:00

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7062

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0246/01 0821200

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 231200Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4266

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2717

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2839

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1293

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2104

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2460

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2887

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5326

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2006

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000246

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2019

TAGS: ASEC KDEM ELAB PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM EDUCATION STILL IN LIMBO AS TEACHERS THREATEN

RENEWED STRIKES

 

REF: HARARE 226

 

Classified By: Charge d'affaires, a.i. Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4

(d).

 

------

SUMMARY

-------

 

1. (SBU) Raymond Majongwe, the outspoken Secretary General of

the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), told us

in a meeting on March 18 that teachers' unions are in the

difficult position of working with the genuinely interested

and committed new Minister of Education (MDC-M's David

Coltart), and trying to satisfy the demands of teachers who

are outraged at inadequate pay and the fact of illegitimate

workers on the GOZ payroll. In order to stay relevant and

not lose touch with its membership, the unions may go on

strike again until the government increases pay for

legitimate teachers and rids the payroll of illegitimate

government workers. END SUMMARY.

 

--------------------------------------------- -------

Union Stuck Between Good Minister and Angry Teachers

--------------------------------------------- -------

 

2. (SBU) During our meeting with Majongwe, he took multiple

phone calls from teachers demanding information on their

salaries and agitating to go on strike since the government

has not lived up to its promise to negotiate a higher salary

for March. Majongwe explained that teachers had been told

they would receive their salary of Z$800 (which is

essentially worthless) and the standard civil servant

allowance of US$100 in their bank accounts on March 19. On

March 20, PTUZ told us that some of the larger banks in

Harare had paid teachers while others, particularly in

outlying communities, did not have cash. After months

without bank lines, a long line of civil servants waiting for

cash formed outside CABS building society in Harare on March

19 and 20. As teachers wait in long bank lines for their

US$100, their classrooms remain empty. Majongwe confirmed

press statements that PTUZ and the alternative teacher's

union, the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA), agree on

the potential need to strike if salaries are not raised.

 

3. (SBU) Majongwe criticized Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai's overestimation of the government's ability to

pay wages, leading to disillusionment amongst the work force.

Following Tsvangirai's promise, Majongwe's union called on

Zimbabwean teachers working in South Africa and elsewhere to

return home and rebuild Zimbabwe by returning to the

classroom. The government promised it would negotiate a

higher salary for the March pay check; however, that has not

happened. Teachers, unhappy with the continued low pay, are

ready to walk away again. Already, numerous teachers --

disgusted with Zimbabwe's continued economic instability --

who answered the call to come homehave said that they will

collect their March pay checks and return to South Africa,

where they still have jobs and homes. While Majongwe and

others had believed that the GOZ would have the money to pay

Qothers had believed that the GOZ would have the money to pay

civil servants, especially teachers, in foreign currency,

they now recognized that the GOZ was indeed broke.

 

4. (SBU) PTUZ's starting salary demand of US$2,200 per month

has been widely reported in the press. Majongwe said

teachers would be prepared to accept as little as US$500 for

now. He estimated teacher salaries in Zambia and Botswana

are between US$900 and US$1300. With many Zimbabwean

teachers working elsewhere in the region, Majongwe argued a

comparable salary would help lure them back. With public

 

HARARE 00000246 002 OF 003

 

 

schools charging fees over US$100, many children, including

those of teachers, have been turned away from schools for

inability to pay. Teachers argue that the US$100 allowance

is inadequate and must be raised.

 

5. (SBU) Majongwe said he empathized with Minister Coltart's

inability to pay a higher wage, but said that as a union

leader, his responsibility is to negotiate with the GOZ and

push for higher wages. An exasperated Majongwe showed us an

article from a local paper in Masvingo published this week

that accused him of "selling out" to the government and being

overly conciliatory to the government. To stay relevant and

responsive to teachers, Majongwe said he must respond to the

teachers' concerns and not appear to be defending the

government.

 

6. (U) Separately, Minister Coltart told the press on March

18 that the coffers are dry and said he could not promise

"anything" in terms of salaries. In an encouraging move,

Coltart also launched a National Education Advisory Board

consisting of leaders of both trade unions and members of all

political parties. The Board will map out a plan for the

educational system.

 

-----------------------------------------

How Many Teachers Are Left? No One Knows

-----------------------------------------

 

7. (SBU) In a recent meeting, the Permanent Secretary of the

Ministry of Education told Minister Coltart and Majongwe that

there are 94,000 teachers -- officially -- in Zimbabwe.

Majongwe believes there are only about 40-50,000 teachers,

plus at least 30,000 youths -- most of whom were active in

violent youth militias during the 2008 election campaigns --

who are on the government payroll as teachers. Majongwe said

that 70-80 percent of the teachers are not qualified, having

been appointed through nepotism or despite inadequate

academic qualifications. In comparison, Zimbabwe had about

115,000 teachers in 2005. Without an audit or survey, it

will be impossible to know how many "real" teachers remain in

Zimbabwe. (NOTE: Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently told

us there are 130,000 teachers on the books (Ref A). END

NOTE.)

 

-----------------------------------------

Thugs On The Payroll And In The Classroom

-----------------------------------------

 

8. (C) During the election violence in 2008, the ZANU-PF

machinery launched a coordinated series of attacks and

intimidation in rural communities, often directed at teachers

who had been assigned to work at polling stations for the

March 2008 election and were perceived as MDC supporters.

Majongwe told us that many of the perpetrators of those

attacks are now receiving the US$100 government allowance,

having been added to the payroll of the government, often

through the Ministry of Youth (now led by notorious ZANU-PF

MP Saviour Kasukuwere) or the Ministry of Women (led by

ZANU-PF's Olivia Muchena). In communities, these "employees"

QZANU-PF's Olivia Muchena). In communities, these "employees"

flaunt their paychecks although it is widely recognized that

they are not actually doing anything.

 

9. (C) In a development that just began this month,

"employees" of these two ministries have established

"offices" within classrooms across the country. According to

teacher reports to PTUZ, these "employees" sit in small book

rooms that are within the classroom where they can hear the

teacher throughout the day. They are only there for the

duration of the school day -- teachers and Majongwe believe

they are there to spy on the teachers and to provide quiet

 

HARARE 00000246 003 OF 003

 

 

intimidation. Press reports have indicated ZANU-PF youths

have threatened teachers and insisted on sitting in on

lectures to ensure teachers don't spread "MDC propaganda."

 

10. (C) Teachers are outraged by this new development, first

because it is a continuation of the intimidation they have

experienced at the hands of ZANU-PF since the run-up to the

March 2008 election, and second because they see these fellow

"civil servants" as not doing anything but still receiving

the same US$100 allowance. Majongwe said Minister Coltart

was genuinely concerned and had asked him for additional

evidence.

 

--------------------------------------------- ---

PTUZ Happy With New Minister, Despite Challenges

--------------------------------------------- ---

 

11. (SBU) Majongwe described Minister Coltart as a deeply

concerned, compassionate, and level-headed leader. He noted

the significant contrast with the previous minister, with

whom he interacted only once -- when he was summoned to the

ministry to be scolded for a public statement. Now, however,

Minister Coltart has actively sought out Majongwe's opinion

on numerous occasions, and they have met or spoken nearly a

dozen times in the last month. Majongwe appeared sad when

contemplating launching a strike against this new minister

who is trying desperately to pull Zimbabwe's educational

system from the abyss.

 

--------------------------

COMMENT: Show Me The Money

--------------------------

 

12. (C) Teachers have justifiable complaints that the US$100

allowance is inadequate to cover a family's living expenses.

At the same time, there is little understanding of how very

poor and unproductive Zimbabwe has become in the past decade,

with GDP per capita estimated at less than a dollar a day,

making wage comparisons with neighboring countries,

especially Botswana and South Africa, unreasonable. The

government's commitment to pay higher salaries in foreign

currency and inability to follow through may quickly produce

a backlash. With open schools as a significant indicator of

progress in the New Zimbabwe, renewed strikes could be

disastrous both politically for the MDC and educationally for

the children. END COMMENT.

 

DHANANI

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