By Nqobile Tshili
Some Zimbabwean teachers based in South Africa have gone for nine months without being paid with the neighbouring country’s education sector blaming its Home Affairs Department for delays in processing their work permits.
The teachers are allegedly among the more than 169 000 Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) permit beneficiaries which are still being processed.
According to South African media reports quoting Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Ms Bronagh Hammond, the government blamed the ZEP processes for delays in paying the teachers their salaries.
“Our problem, however, is that Home Affairs takes their time to verify these (ZEP) work permits. We follow up on numerous occasions,” said Ms Hammond.
“Home Affairs has confirmed that they are inundated with permit verification. Even if the work permit is bar-coded it still needs to be verified. The WCED does sympathise. It is unfair to those educators with valid permits to wait so long. The WCED, however, has to abide by the law.”
Union of Zimbabwean Educators Western Cape chairperson Mr Jack Mutsvairo said his union which was established in 2016 with more than 50 members was handling some of the cases.
He said some of the members have informed the union of sad tales of how they are living through borrowing yet they were working for Government departments.
“Some of the Zimbabwean teachers, come to us claiming they haven’t been paid for between three to nine months, tell sad stories,” Mr Mutsvairo, told the South African media.
He said some of the teachers who are affected by the delays have not engaged the union as they feared victimisation if they spoke openly about being unpaid.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Department last week urged all beneficiaries of the ZEP to ensure that they have submitted required documentation before October 31. More than 169 000 Zimbabweans have applied to regularise their stay in South Africa through the ZEP.
Most Zimbabwean teachers left the country for greener pastures in the neighbouring countries when the country’s economy took a nosedive from 2007 to 2009.
The brain drain saw Government schools facing serious deficit of teachers especially in science and mathematics departments.
To address the deficit, the Government is offering scholarships for those intending to study sciences and mathematics. The Chronicle