Credit: ZimLive

Tragic Suicide: Teacher’s Death After Collecting Pay Sparks Outrage, Teachers’ Unions Blame Mthuli Ncube

Two teachers’ unions in Zimbabwe have blamed the government’s failure to pay decent salaries for the death of a deputy headteacher who hanged herself. Miriam Mzenda was found dead in her house at Sarahuru Primary School in Mwenezi, Masvingo on Tuesday morning. Mzenda was married to a headteacher based in Chivi.

Unions Blame Mthuli

Miriam had travelled to Masvingo to collect her pay on Monday and was found dead by colleagues.  ZimLive reported that, they had become concerned when she did not return. The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) blamed Mrs Mzenda’s death on the government. ARTUZ stated on Twitter that “Mthuli Ncube’s policies have killed Mrs Mzenda. Slave wages are the new guillotine claiming our teachers. The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is presiding over the killing of civil servants and untold suffering for those who live on”.

Unions Blame Derisory Salaries

The unions blamed the government’s low salaries for teachers, which they claim have pushed many to the brink. Teachers earn roughly Z$70,000 (about US$10) in basic pay and US$250 in allowances made up of a US$75 Covid-19 allowance and a US$150 “cushioning allowance.” The unions are pressing the government to restore teachers’ 2018 salaries averaging US$540.

Family’s Position

A relative of Mrs Mzenda has also suggested that her salary may have played a part in her death.

“A link between her pathetic salary and her death cannot be ruled out. Given that so many teachers are walking graves, talking alone, a sign and recipe for one to take their own life,” the relative said.