By Farayi Machamire
Zimbabwe’s schools are demanding top-up fees while others now want school fees paid exclusively in United States dollars.
Some private schools alerted parents this week that they should pay in US insisting it was “an unavoidable reality” given the pricing situation obtaining in Zimbabwe.
“Due to the prevailing economic conditions in our country, the school is asking you to pay top up fees for your child or children,” reads a letter to parents last week from one private school, Masvingo’s Riverton Academy.
“The fees is required in hard currency and is to be paid into the school FCA account with the following details: Top up fees: Primary school $578, forms 1,2,3 and 5 $735, form 4 $385.00 and form 6 $420.”
Riverton had earlier told parents: “The prevailing economic conditions in the country are there for all to see. We are now a few days past mid-term, 49 days to be exact since schools opened this term. We are still 42 days to go.
“It is everyone’s guess that fees paid already will not be able to meet budgetary requirements.
“The pricing situation that obtains in the country will force the school to ask for top-up fees payments from parents with effect from 24 October 2018.”
Efforts to get a comment from Primary and Secondary Education Minister Paul Mavima on how government would respond to the new payment regime being implemented by schools were fruitless.
Besides teachers, doctors have also openly demanded to be paid in the United States dollar as their salaries continue to be eroded by skyrocketing prices.
“Prices of available goods are skyrocketing while the bond is becoming worthless. Doctors are demanding cash upfront pegged against foreign currency. The situation is untenable,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou told the Daily News.
“A lot of schools have said come January they will only accept US dollars that means teachers won’t be able to send their children to school, we also won’t be able to buy medication.
“That we need to be paid US dollar, is more real than apparent. Any other claims of a 1:1 bond to US dollar ratio is a tissue of misrepresentation,” he added.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has maintained that government will not pay civil servants in US, defiantly insisting that the United States dollar and the bond notes remain at par.
“Let me assure you that as from yesterday we have begun flooding the market. We have brought in three times the fuel as is necessary and our bond will remain 1:1 with the dollar.
“Those who want to lose their money can change their money at whatever level but formally and officially it remains 1:1,” Mnangagwa said last week.
This comes as prices of basic commodities continue to spiral out of control occasioned by limited foreign currency and the introduction of a two percent tax per dollar transacted.
The separation of the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) balances from Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) has also been interpreted by the market as the devaluation of RTGS bank balances further pushing up prices of goods sold through electronic transactions.
Several retail outlets, including those owned by Cabinet ministers, have also pegged available goods against the US dollar while at the same time pharmacies are now selling medication in foreign currency. DailyNews