SCORES of teachers at Eagle Tanning Primary and Secondary schools in rural Marondera are stranded after an indigenous farmer recently ordered them to pay rentals in foreign currency.
The farmer, identified as Godfrey Gonese, allegedly backdated the US dollar rentals to January this year.
In a letter of demand dated March 23 shown to NewsDay, Gonese’s company Lowveld Leather Products, which owns the farm is demanding US$60 per month for a six-roomed house.
Affected teachers at the learning institution told this publication that they could not afford to pay the rentals because their paltry salaries are paid in local currency.
Teachers currently earn between $14 000 and $19 000.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Mashonaland East provincial co-odinator Tapiwa Chengeta confirmed the development yesterday, adding that all schools belonged to government, hence the teachers should not pay the rentals.
“Last week, we visited the school after hearing that Lowveld Leather Products, whose farm accommodates the school, is now demanding rentals from teachers. It is unfortunate that some people can come from nowhere and claim that government property is theirs. Schools are owned by the State, it is government that provides accommodation to these teachers. We do not tolerate such demands and we will fight until the teachers’ concerns are dealt with,” he said.
Eagle Tanning primary and secondary schools were established in 1979 by Belmont Leather to cater for employees’ children as well as those from nearby communities.
The schools were handed over to government in 1981 through the Marondera Rural District Council.
The farm and factory were taken over by indigenous businesspeople in 1987, who then leased the shoe-making factory to an Italian investor.
The primary school has an enrolment of 652 pupils and 19 teachers, while a total of 546 students are enrolled at the secondary school. The catchment area of the school extends to Marondera town.
Efforts to get a comment from Mashonaland East provincial education director Annatoria Ncube were fruitless as she had not responded to questions sent to her by the time of going to print.