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Striking Zimbabwe Teachers Joined by More Than 1,000 College Lecturers

The College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe said the majority of its 1,500 members have joined a strike launched earlier this week by teachers to enforce their demand for increased salaries

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, under heavy pressure from President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party to increase civil service salaries, reiterated on Thursday that the government simply does not have the means to give its employees a raise.

Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare on Biti's news conference.

Meanwhile, the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe said its members, instructors in polytechnic and vocational colleges around the country, have joined a strike by many teachers in progress since earlier this week to enforce their pay demands.

Lecturers Association President David Dzatsunga said 70 percent of his 1,500 members have joined a strike called by the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe.

Civil servants are demanding an entry-level salary of $502 a month but the lectures are calling for a base salary for university lecturers of more than US$1,000.

Dzatsunga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his members won’t return to work until they get a pay commitment from the government.

Elsewhere, the Progressive Teachers Union said its Mashonaland Central provincial chairman, Prosper Mugwagwa, a teacher at Nzvimbo Secondary School, was threatened Thursday with a gun by headmaster Diamond Zharare over his role in the strike.

Mugwagwa told VOA that he reported the incident at Chombira Police Station where a constable was investigating the matter. He said he would remain on strike.