The recent move by the state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) to charge its fares in foreign currency has irked teachers whose demands to be paid in the same US dollars have largely been ignored by their employer.
It emerged this week that ZUPCO – the only official public transport service provider in the current Covid-19 lockdown period – has started charging commuters in foreign currency, in addition to the local currency that it has always charged. A fortnight ago the transport utility, which is enjoying a monopoly in the business, doubled its fares.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) said the move only worsens the plight of teachers who are already hard up.
“It is now all over the media that public transporters such as ZUPCO are charging fares in foreign currency. Where does that leave the teacher in a public school?” the union said in a statement. “What does it mean when those who are ordinarily supposed to be torchbearers of the community become part of the marginalised? Who will serve the marginalised communities when teachers cannot access the schools where they teach because they no longer afford to travel? Why has the teacher not been able to access a transport allowance in foreign currency like other citizens?”
Since last year, teachers have been demanding that their salaries be restored to at least the US$520 that most of them were earning in 2018 when the government suddenly introduced the RTGS as a local currency, which currency has since lost its power from 1:1 then to the current levels of upto 1:130 to the US dollar. This has severely affected teachers and other civil servants.