The persisting Zimbabwe cash crisis has now gotten to the point where the country is embracing something that looks like trade by batter…
Per the latest announcement by the Zimbabwean government, parents and guardians who have no money can now pay the school fees of their children and wards using domestic animals such as goats, sheep, and fowls. The notice was brought to The Sunday Mail by the Zimbabwean Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora who added that schools should be flexible enough to also accept labour as payments.
Our schools have to be flexible and ensure those who do not have money to pay fees can work. For example, if there is a builder in the community, he/she must be given that opportunity to work as a form of payment of tuition fees, he added.
The Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Sylvia Utete-Masango explained that pupils and students should no longer be sent out of school because their parents or guardians have no money to pay their tuition fees; stating that those in the rural areas could easily pay with livestock while those in the urban areas can pay through doing some work for the school.
On the issue of how the value of livestock or labour would be determined, Utete-Masango said that school heads will stand in for the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry and school development committee members for parents and “they will jointly determine the value of the livestock, and can then use the money realised to upgrade school infrastructure or help with agriculture”.
However, this new and rather obscure arrangement by the Zimbabwean government has received mixed reactions from stakeholders, with many advising the government to look out for better options. The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general, John Mlilo has appealed to authorities to reconsider the options.
According to Mr. Mlilo, the directive will not be sustainable with regards to parents in urban areas, considering the learner population in both urban and rural areas. Envisaging what it will be if over a thousand parents throng a particular school in the naming of working, he said it will bring about commotion, ridicule, low self esteem among other negative impacts on the part of the affected pupils and parents.
There will be commotion! Talk about self-esteem … children will be subject to ridicule and bullying, and the concerned parents themselves will not feel good about it. Why spend time doing manual labour at a school when they can go there to look for a good job?
Meanwhile, The Sunday Mail reports reveal that some public primary schools in Glen View, Harare have started the practice already.
In the same vein, the country’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa indicated that banks will also be obliged to accept livestock from small scale businessmen in form of collateral for loans. The suggestion is contained in The Movable Property Security Interests bill which is still with the parliament for consideration.
The Zimbabwe Cash Crisis
This new ‘livestock currency’ rule was only brought about by the crippling Zimbabwe cash crisis which of course is no longer news on the media. The money shortages which have persisted for sometime now have seen many Zimbabweans spend their nights in long queues at the banks to get chances of withdrawing the very much limited supply of cash in the country. Many big businesses are also finding it impossible to make both cash and foreign payments, since the only readily available means is that of e-payment.
The crippling Zimbabwe cash crisis have been blamed on varying factors. Among them is the fact that the country abandoned its own currency eight years ago and adopted mainly the dollar, with the aim of halting hyperinflation; which of course was realised then. But with the current floundering economy and a strong dollar stoking imports and curtailing exports, banknotes have virtually disappeared, prompting the central bank to order private lenders to cap customer cash withdrawals at $150 a week.
The move has even worsened the whole situation as Zimbabweans no longer trust the banks, and therefore would not allow the cash they have at hand to be in the banks’ custody. Despite the Central Bank Governor’s warnings to cash hoarders, they would rather have their money in their pockets than risk them getting trapped in the banks.