Tendai Gukutikwa Post Correspondent
SOME schools in Mutare are resisting fees payments through mobile money transfers despite a directive by the parent ministry that they acquire merchant codes and cushion parents from the cash crisis, The Manica Post has learnt.
The back-to-school hustle worsened this week as parents with funds in their mobile wallets went to the black market to cash out the electronic money at runaway street rates in order to pay fees.
A snap survey conducted by this paper on Wednesday showed that most schools were accepting bank transfers but the bulk of them turned away parents or guardians who wanted to pay fees using EcoCash, TextaCash and OneWallet.
Manicaland education director, Mr Edward Shumba said it was an act of mischief for the schools to turn away parents with mobile payments.
He said a directive was given at the beginning of the year that all schools open accounts and have merchant codes that will
enable parents to pay using mobile transfers.
“Last term we instructed the schools to establish merchant codes which have the names of the schools because everybody knows that there is cash shortage in the country. It is a problem of stubborn Schools Development Committee officials or heads who do not want to necessarily follow instructions. The district schools inspectors were told and they passed the instructions to the respective schools.
“Currently, I am at Gudhlanga Primary School in Nyanyadzi and parents are paying using mobile money. If a school in the rural areas is already implementing that directive then it remains an issue on why schools in the city are not complying to the instruction,” said Mr Shumba.
Parents were furious saying at a time that Government is encouraging the use of plastic money, schools that are under a Government ministry were acting contrary.
They said SDC officials were demanding cash payments in order to fuel illegal money laundering activities they were involved in.
“Why ask for cash when you are going to bank it before day-end? It is evident that these people running SDCs want the cash to do their illegal transactions on the black market.
‘‘We know it,” said a parent who requested anonymity.
The ensuing crisis has left the parents at the mercy of illegal cash vendors who are making a killing out of the mess.
“We are being charged 30 percent for every transaction since we need the cash badly to pay fees. This could have been a different story if our schools accepted plastic money. We are being robbed,” said a parent with a child who attends school at Mutare Junior.
Another parent whose child learns at Murahwa Hill Primary School said it was a nightmare. Parents who phoned The Manica Post claimed that authorities at
Chancellor Junior Primary School and Chikanga Primary School were also demanding cash.
“They are not taking EcoCash, they want cash or bank transfers. It is a problem because we do not have cash and everybody knows that most of us do not even have bank accounts.
‘‘I am a vendor and people pay me using EcoCash these days. Now my child will not be allowed in class because I have not paid his fees but I have the money readily available in my phone.
“It is so unfair because the Government is urging people to use plastic money yet the schools are refusing to accept the same,” he said.