The cuts came after a so-called ‘ghost audit’ of workplaces over a period of time that failed to account for legitimate absences. According to an account published in The Africa Report, “Most of the teachers who went home empty-handed were on study leave, maternity leave, vocational leave and sick leave, while others had travelled after communicating with their superiors.”
Contacted by journalists for the Report, one teacher 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.”
The article said “Efforts to get a comment from Public Service Commission officials were fruitless yesterday.”
The Chroniclein Harare said Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu confirmed the non-payment, saying “According to our records, some 3,000 teachers have complained of not receiving their July salaries. The actual figure could be much higher, but so far that’s the number that we have.”
According to Ndlovu, Zimta was told that the unpaid teachers were not present when the audit was conducted in April and were then wrongly designated as ‘ghost workers.’ He said Zimta is demanding an explanation from the government why the “innocent and serving” teachers were struck off the pay sheet.
The withholding of teacher salaries comes amidst an effort to reduce pay costs overall, but the educators warned that reducing or eliminating the pay of underpaid civil servants will do little to address the problems of a bloated bureaucracy in the nation, where the government of President Robert Mugabe has more than 70 ministers and additional deputies.
Ndlovu told the Report "When cutting the wage bill, they should look at the entire size of government; that is the ministers, the high-ranking officials and the expenditure they gobble in government. The idea of firing a low-ranking worker such as a teacher, for example, in order to cut the wage bill does not read well."