Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe has entered into a partnership with a local company to source and distribute groceries to teachers countrywide as part of the civil servants food benefit scheme.
West Group Distribution Network is supplying and distributing the food hampers in a move aimed at cushioning the educators due to their low salaries. Some of the teachers in most districts have started receiving the hampers that include rice, mealie-meal, cooking oil, sugar and soap sold at low prices.
Under the scheme the teachers take groceries worth US$50 and above and the money will be deducted over three months to one year depending on the total cost of the groceries.
Launching the scheme in Buhera on Thursday TUZ president Mr Lovemore Mufamba urged teachers to be innovative and come up with strategies that complement their salaries.
"Government has failed to pay us adequately and it means we have to work out various means to survive. It now needs innovative men and women to survive under this inconsiderate Government of national unity," he said.
He said the scheme was vital for rural teachers who were not benefiting from incentives.
"Unlike in urban areas, rural teachers have got nothing to get from parents because most of them are poor. The beneficiaries will no longer travel long distances to urban centres in search of basic food commodities," he said.
Mr Mufamba urged the corporate world to partner civil servants in schemes such as furniture, vehicle and housing stands, among other services. "The civil servants are the pillar of every Government and should be supported at all cost.
We will be happy if more companies come forward and partner in many schemes because this is the only way we can own properties," he said. Buhera district education officer Mr Johannes Guri urged the teachers not to abuse the facility. "Many of us are struggling to make ends meet and when such a facility comes, there is a need to embrace it and use it for our benefit," he said.
West Group managing director Mrs Tatiana Aleshina Ellis said they signed a legal agreement and no one should be afraid of being duped of their hard-earned cash.
"The groceries have to be delivered first before the money is deducted. No one is forced to enter the scheme but I assure you that the necessary legal processes have been followed," he said. She said the food products would always be available to deserving members.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Oswald Mutero, said the scheme would boost his income.
"I now know that money intended for groceries would go towards other needs.
"It was difficult for me to shop for food products amounting to US$50 because of my low salary. I have received groceries worth US$90, which was impossible using cash."