Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Residents in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, have called for government action against a school asking for fees in livestock or fuel coupons
Those who do not have coupons have been asked to deliver 700 liters of fuel. One teacher at Petra High School said it was cash-strapped parents who originally wanted to pay in kind. Though politicians in Zimbabwe signed a power-sharing deal, the country is still suffering from an acute economic crisis. The last official figure given for annual inflation was 11,000,000%. Recently the central bank struck 10 zeros from the currency, making 10bn Zimbabwe dollars equal to one new dollar. Banks only allow people to withdraw a maximum of 1,000 new Zimbabwe dollars a day. "If you are paying school fees of 100,000 dollars, that means I will be going to the bank for the next five months to withdraw 1,000 dollars until I reach the requirement amount for fees," said one parent, Babongile Simanga. Petra High School was not available for comment but two teachers confirmed that if parents failed to raise enough cash, they could pay in whatever they have, including livestock. It is not clear how many parents have handed over animals, but the practice is said to have been going on for some time. "It's not only Petra High school that is doing that," said Dumisa Tshabalala of Magwegwe township, who has two children at Embakwe High School in the neighbouring province of Matabeleland South. "Many schools these days are doing it and we should blame the government not schools." Cows are the usual method of payment because of their higher value, though poor people in rural areas have also used goats.