The Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology ministry has said it does not have money to pay lecturers’ bonuses, urging the university staff to stop fighting.

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Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology minister Oppah Muchinguri

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In an interview minister Oppah Muchinguri said the government had no money, although the rights of the lecturers had to be considered.

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“The lecturers deserve their bonuses, but the situation is not good,” she said almost dejectedly.

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“The money is not there, so we should look at reality.

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“We should not spend our time and energy fighting, but we should invest our energies into something tangible.”

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Muchinguri said they would be conducting meetings with institutions so that they know the situation on the ground.

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“This is why we will engage the universities in a meeting on Monday and address all these issues,” she said.

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Two weeks ago National University of Science and Technology (Nust) lectures joined other State universities in a nationwide strike, demanding payment of their February salaries and December 2014 bonuses.

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However, Muchinguri quickly intervened and the lecturers were paid their February salaries before they returned to work, but the bonuses were not paid.

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Nust and its lecturers, under the umbrella of the Nust Educators’ Association (Nusteda) reportedly reached a stalemate on the issue of payment of bonuses, with the matter being referred to an independent arbitrator.

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The matter was taken before a labour officer of conciliation, where Nust was represented by Biggy Ngwenya from the human resources department, while Nusteda was represented by its lawyer Kossam Ncube and the whole executive led by Alois Muzuwe.

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However, the parties failed to agree and the matter was referred to an independent arbitrator.

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Last month, State university lecturers countrywide clashed with the government over late payment of January salaries and outstanding bonuses.

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The government only paid their January salaries in mid-February.

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Early this month, Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa said bonus payments had been staggered, starting with the payment of University of Zimbabwe lecturers with the rest to receive theirs as and when funds became available.

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Southern Eye