Cash shortages hit school opening preps

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HARARE – Schools begin the third term with parents facing a myriad problems including having to fork out steep prices for uniforms and other essential due to cash shortages which have seen retailers introducing different prices under a three-tier payment system.

Yesterday, a number of parents complained of their frustrations with the prevailing situation at most shops.

Their plight was worsened by bus operators who were only demanding cash for fares.

“Shops are charging as much as 50 percent of the price if you use swipe. Bond notes have their own price, United States dollar its own price and Ecocash a different price yet we are not being paid with a premium when our salaries are paid through the RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement),” said Chikomborero Mtandwa.

Another parent who spoke to the Daily News in a separate interview was upset that bus operators were demanding cash.

“I have five children who have to go by bus. How can I have $50 for their bus fare and other small essentials when I am only being given $20 dollars after sleeping in a bank queue?” Takura Maita queried.

A bus operator who requested anonymity said it was not feasible to accept plastic money.

“To avoid headaches, we don’t accept it because at the end of the day, we can’t access it and even when we do, we can only access the money at a premium as many plastic money agents charge you for a transaction. The higher the transaction, the more you are charged. It’s not worth it,” the operator said.

The problems of cash shortages were also affecting the payment of fees.

Lilian Timveos, the MDC senator for Zvishavane, raised alarm over a school in her constituency that was accepting maize as school fees.

She said at Shonhayi Secondary School, which is a satellite school, pupils walk up to 28km to school.

“The school receives the maize in the hope of recovering their school fees when they sell the grain to the Grain Marketing Board,” Timveos said.

Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) spokesperson, Zivai Mhetu, said the problems facing parents needed a political solution.

“We are worried by the cash shortages bedeviling the country. Parents are sleeping in bank queues, some satellite schools don’t have bank accounts and the promise of free education at primary level is still a dream.

“With voter registration commencing on Thursday, it’s up to parents to decide if they want to continue on this path or change direction for the better,” he said last week. – Daily News