Unions representing teachers have demanded the scrapping of the Government Employees Mutual Savings Fund (GEMS), arguing it is not benefiting their members.
GEMS was set up by Cabinet in March 2020 with the government saying it would provide $100 million in seed capital to improve the welfare of civil servants.
Under GEMS, civil servants are subjected to 2.5% monthly wage deductions to support the loan scheme.
But Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said the government is still making the deductions from teachers who opted out of GEMS. Masaraure said:
The scheme was unilaterally imposed on workers. Teachers opted out but were surprised to realise that deductions continued and are still being done.
Those who have sought loans from GEMS have been denied because they are said to be earning too little to qualify. So they qualify to contribute but don’t qualify to access the loans.
We are aware that fat cats in the civil service are benefitting from the contributions of the underpaid junior civil servants.
We have clear instructions from teachers to call for the scrapping of the fraud called GEMS.
We will do everything in our power to make sure that teachers will not suffer this prejudice in 2023.
Educators Unions of Zimbabwe (EUZ) secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said:
This level of abuse at the hands of an arrogant employer is unparalleled and should never be seen again.
Once the scheme has been dissolved, we demand both an audit and an apology for the abuse of workers’ funds.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said:
It’s a deduction that does not help workers and no one has benefitted from the so-called loan fund. It is, therefore, a liability to employees.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) general secretary Goodwill Taderera said:
We have always said nothing for us, without and we think there has to be a way of getting back to the drawing board, because the board currently running that scheme does not include civil servants. As civil servants, we must be involved.