By Thandiwe Garusa & Agencies
THE government has said it would embark on a highly ambitious project to build 34,000 houses for teachers in the next five years.
This comes at a time when teachers and health workers have been on strike demanding decent salaries and that they should be paid in United States dollars.
Addressing the media Monday, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said teachers will get a 100% salary increase and other non-monetary benefits like accommodation and transport to cushion them from the high cost of living.
“Provision of 34,000 housing units as institutional accommodation for teachers to cushion teachers from the rising cost of accommodation,” said the Minister.
“Government has committed itself to provide 34 000 housing units within and outside school premises over a period of five years.
“Provision of transport facilities to ferry teachers in both rural and urban areas has already commenced.
“This is facilitated by existing structures under the civil service bus fund and rural and urban mass transport system.”
He added: “Restoration of the advancement awards, payment of performance awards which had been withheld due to financial constraints, have been restored and these will now be processed effective 1 July 2022.
“For this purpose, members will now be placed on their correct employment grades, payment of school fees for up to 3 biological children per teaching family; this benefit applies to teachers and payment will be made directly to schools and will be up to a prescribed limit per biological child.
“Currently this limit is ZWL20,000 per child per term and treasury is ready to disburse the required amounts for the first term.”
The development was part of a package of measures announced by the State treasury to address resurgent inflationary pressures and the resultant cost of living crisis.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is blamed for increasing fuel and food prices. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate has nearly doubled, according to official statistics.
Many fear Zimbabwe could return to the hyperinflation of 2008 which reached 500 billion %, according to the International Monetary Fund. That economic catastrophe forced the government to adopt a multi-currency system in 2009 in which U.S. dollars and the South African rand were accepted as legal tender.
The U.S. dollar continues to dominate as prices in local currency are often benchmarked to the rates for the American currency on the flourishing illegal market, where most individuals and companies get their foreign currency.
Zimbabweans who earn in local currency such as government workers must source dollars on the illegal market to pay for goods and services that are increasingly being charged in U.S. dollars.