More than 120,000 Zimbabwean teachers will go on strike next week, presenting a fresh headache for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as ordinary workers continue to express discontent over the country’s deteriorating economy.

The strike announcement comes just two weeks after a stay-away organised by the trade union movement in the country resulted in a violent crackdown by  police and the army that saw at least 12 people dead. Observers say the death toll is much higher after soldiers besieged private homes, abducting, raping and beating up civilians.

The strike also comes a few weeks after a similar strike by doctors and nurses in state hospitals that paralysed the entire health system.  Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade, owing to rising inflation, which has led workers to demand wage rises.

In a joint statement, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) confirmed the strike action.

“We have agreed as follows; that starting from the 5th of February 2019  all our members shall exercise their right in terms of section 65 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe … by embarking on collective job action. This essentially means our members will be withdrawing their services/labour and will not be reporting for duty with effect from the said date.”

Zimta is the largest teacher organisation in Zimbabwe with a reported membership of  100,000 while PTUZ has about 20,000 members.

On Wednesday, the Apex Council, which represents all 300,000 government employees, backed down from a national strike, alluding to the tension in the country as soldiers are still deployed in suburbs as part of an ongoing crackdown over the recent demonstrations.

The government’s 300,000 workers are demanding pay increases or salaries to be paid in US dollars to cushion them from runaway inflation and an economic crisis that has depreciated the value of the local bond note surrogate currency.

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