The sad development comes as it also emerges that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is toying with the idea of taxing incentives teachers receive from parents. The issue of teachers’ incentives has been mired in controversy, amid reports that some teachers in Bulawayo were demanding money from pupils which they pocket and do not issue out receipts.
The problem is so widespread that parents have called upon Government to scrap these incentives altogether.Accounting experts say receiving money without issuing receipts for it is meant to ensure there is no audit trail for the money in order to pre-empt possible investigations by institutions such as Zimra or auditors.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday News, the Deputy Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Lazarus Dokora, warned teachers that if they are found misappropriating incentives they would be arrested.
“School heads and teachers have been warned that they must not abuse the incentive facility. My ministry has received numerous complaints about schools that are deviously demanding incentives from parents. If they are not careful just like the 96 school heads, the nemesis will catch up with them too,’’ the deputy minister said.
He said incentives came about as a last resort in an effort to cushion teachers but was not a permanent feature. The deputy minister, however, noted with concern that some school heads and sdc officials were abusing the incentives.
“Incentives were a way of offering teachers better packages. We even talked to their unions making it clear that it is not a permanent feature but an interim measure. We told them that it will be dropped when the Government gets enough funds and is in a better position to allocate better salaries,’’ said Deputy Minister Dokora.
According to a circular sent to schools by the ministry, incentives were supposed to be 10 percent of the levy charged by a school.Deputy Minister Dokora noted that schools have, however, had come up with strategies that made parents pay more outside this policy framework.
“Theses strategies are the ones which parents are arguing against,’’ he said.
Parents were concerned about the ministry’s delays in putting in place mechanisms that would ensure transparency concerning teachers’ incentives.
“Before it introduced incentives, the ministry should have introduced the safeguards preventing abuse of the money we pay and on the collection procedure,’’ said Mrs Sarah Hove of Mahatshula suburb in Bulawayo.
Deputy Minister Dokora said the delay was because they had lost personnel who migrated in search of greener pastures.
“We lost personnel in the system who went beyond our borders. We are slowly filling up the vacancies so the investigations can be a regular feature in our schools,’’ he said.
Deputy Minister Dokora said schools were going to be audited as a moral civil duty. He could, however, not be drawn to say when the 96 school representatives would appear in court as the matter was being handled by another arm of Government.
On the issue of Zimra showing an interest in teachers’ incentives, he said the revenue collecting authority was entitled to get involved if schools overstep their limits to allowances.
“Zimra as a revenue authority have a right to intervene on the issue. They don’t have to consult the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture because we are a user ministry not an employer. It is between them (Zimra) and the Ministry of Public Service who pays civil servants,’’ said Deputy Minister Dokora.
Zimra is reported to have sent letters to schools stating that it was conducting a survey of income earned by staff in the education sector.The letter, shown to Sunday News, instructed school heads to submit true information concerning teachers’ income within seven days of receipt of the letter.The letter further warned against providing false information saying culprits would face prosecution.
“I am aware that by March Zimra had started to investigate schools in the northern suburbs, I mean Harare. Each school will be investigated, as Zimra will go anywhere. It’s appropriate for them to do that as that will mean more money in the coffers from tax collected,’’ said Deputy Minister Dokora.
According to a Zimra employee who refused to be named, the authority, in terms of Section 8, which is the Income Tax Act, has the right to verify on the In a telephone interview, the Minister of Public Service, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, said his ministry through the Public Service Commission was conducting thorough investigations on corruption that now existed in the incentive collection by teachers.
“After the investigations, we will be reviewing the whole system as it is now marked with corruption emanating from the school authorities. I have said this many times before that teachers should not demand for incentives and students should not be turned away from school for not paying incentives. It is illegal,’’ he said.
Professor Mukonoweshuro said parents were supposed to pay incentives voluntarily and according to their levels of ability.The minister of public service declined to comment on the taxation issue saying it involves incomes and allowances hence it was appropriate to ask the Finance Minister.
In a telephone interview from Harare, the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, said he has no power whatsoever to issue a directive to Zimra.