Inflation wipes out govt budget

GOVERNMENT says it has failed to recruit teachers required to minimise the shortfall of educators at the country’s public schools because inflation has wiped out the budget for the
exercise.

This could be a tip of the iceberg for a government that in 2019 and 2020 overshot its budget by $107 billion and took two years to apologise for the over-expenditure when it was supposed to do so within 60 days.

Fears abound that many, if not all ministries’ budgets have been wiped out by inflation now at 191,6% as of last month.

The figure is Africa’s second highest after Sudan and has pushed up the cost of living, with many commodity and service providers now demanding strictly United States dollars.

In June, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry announced that it would hire 5 000 teachers by September after revealing that the country had a shortfall of 25 000.

Initially, the ministry wanted to recruit 10 000 teachers before the figure was slashed by half.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu told Parliament during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday that skyrocketing inflation had scuttled plans to recruit more teachers.

“I engaged the Ministry of Labour regarding this particular situation. We were promised 5 000 teachers this year, but because of inflation, we have managed to engage a small percentage of the required teachers,” she said.

Ndlovu last month said they hired 3 904 teachers.

“So we hope that the supplementary budget will come as a panacea to our problem, which will also allow us to look at the issue of salaries, to secure vehicles.”

This comes as teachers are meeting today finalising plans for a strike after they received measly July salaries of less than US$50 on the parallel market, despite a 100% salary increment in June.

Educators have also been quitting their jobs in droves in protest over poor salaries, further depleting staffing levels in schools.

Ndlovu admitted that inflation had paralysed the ministry’s plans to address the crisis facing the education sector, including hiring more
teachers.

“The issue of Early Childhood Development teachers is critical because without elementary level teachers, the child does not have a good foundation because this is the level where the future of any student is cultivated, from Mathematics to other subjects,” she said.

“However, the challenge is that our budgeted resources were affected by the hyperinflation, which culminated in the government failing to remunerate teachers. So I would like to request that we be considered during the supplementary budget.”

Ndlovu said rising inflation has also affected the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) programme, whereby government pays tuition fees for the disadvantaged and orphans.

“On the issue of Beam, there are problems. Beam is meant to relieve vulnerable children, but I am under pressure due to inflation on the amount of money that has not been paid,” Ndlovu said.

“Yes, we will assist those children who have parents who are in dire straits, but we cannot assist all the children because government money is also limited.

“Our cake is very small. We are working with a small cake with a big number of children. So wherever possible and when given the names of the children timeously, we can intervene on time for the child to continue to go to school or to write examinations.”

Last month, research watchdog, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development said its survey revealed that four million children were failing to pay fees and were looking to Beam for assistance.

Public Service minister Paul Mavima said government was only giving assistance to 1,5 million children this year.Newsday

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