President Emmerson Mnangagwa will help over 30 000 teachers recover money they were fleeced of by micro-finance firms. Many micro-lenders provide loans to civil servants, mainly teachers, at interest rates which subsequently rise by a factor of up to 300 percent.
Some borrowers ended up losing property on account of the ballooning debt, while others had their salaries unilaterally garnished for months.
Salaries of teachers who had repaid their loans and those who had unsuccessfully applied for funds were also garnished. The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe asked President Mnangagwa to intervene on members’ behalf.
Responding to the union, President Mnangagwa undertook to work with the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry to resolve the matter.
In a letter dated December 12, 2017, Principal Director (Office of the President and Cabinet) Mr Christopher Gwatidzo wrote: “His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde ED Mnangagwa, acknowledges your profound congratulatory message and has noted the union’s great concern on the welfare as well as deductions from teachers’ salaries.
“The Office of the President and Cabinet, in consultation with the line Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will broadly look into the matter with the gravity and urgency it deserves.” PTUZ president Dr Takavafira Zhou said the union suspected staff at the Salary Service Bureau were conniving with lenders to deduct earnings.
“These companies did not get permission from the employees and we are yet to understand how they did it. This could be an indication that something is wrong within the SSB.
“Some teachers brought receipts to prove that they had paid back the loans, but, still, more money was being deducted from their salaries to the extent that some have not been taking home anything.
“Other members of our union had applied for loans but were unsuccessful. However, these companies still went ahead to garnish their salary accounts.”
Dr Zhou went on: “In 2013, some of the companies went into judicial management while others collapsed only to resurface in 2016 to garnish salaries without the teachers’ consent.
“Common commerce law stipulates that accumulated interest cannot be above the initial borrowed amount, but some teachers were mugged of much more than what they initially borrowed.”
PTUZ secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe was pleased with President Mnangagwa’s response, tweeting: “ED has responded to our letter concerning fleecing of civil servants by bogus companies. This is the first time the Office of the President has done so since our birth.”