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University of Zimbabwe Lecturers Join National Colleagues In Strike

Lecturers at the University of Zimbabwe went on strike on Monday demanding higher salaries and allowances, joining instructors and non-academic staff at institutions in Bulawayo, Gweru and Chinhoyi who have been on strike since January 30.

Salaries of the University of Zimbabwe lecturers and non-academic staff range from some Z$790,000 down to Z$37,000. They are seeking an across the board increase of 1,600% in salaries and allowances to offset annual inflation running at that rate.

Association of University Teachers President James Mhlaule tells reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that University of Zimbabwe lecturers decided to join the national strike only after exhausting all of the available venues for negotiation, including through the parliamentary committee on education.

From Bulawayo, President Benjamin Njekeya of the Zimbabwe State University Union of Academics said lecturers at the state universities in Bulawayo, Gweru and Chinhoyi remained on strike while seeking to engage university and ministerial officials.

Classes were scheduled to resume today at the Bulawayo and Harare institutions, he said, but the strike made it unclear when classes would actually begin.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Students Association is urging students to boycott classes March 5 to protest "incessant" rises in tuition and lodging fees. The student union expressed concern about deteriorating standards and low teacher pay.

In primary and secondary education, some private schools have doubled tuition fees. Parents of children at Saint Georges College in Harare who were paying Z$915,000 a semester must now come up with Z$1.7 million (US$243) in term tuition fees.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...