Government Initiates ZiG Operation on Schools

May 6, 2024
Moses Mhike | Report Focus News
Moses Mhike

ZIMBABWE | The government has launched a multi-agency operation targeting schools that demand tuition fees exclusively in foreign currency, while refusing Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG), which violates exchange control regulations. Officers from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and police will actively pursue such school authorities. Preliminary investigations by the FIU have revealed that some institutions demand up to 80 percent of tuition fees in United States dollars. They cite system configuration issues for accepting ZiG or demand fees at black market exchange rates.

A recent survey found that public and private institutions, including government and mission boarding schools, demand partial or full payment of fees in foreign currency. Day schools also request foreign currency levies. Those accepting local currency peg their fees at inflated black market rates.

The government plans to deploy inspectors to visit educational institutions and ensure compliance with various payment options. Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary, Mr. Moses Mhike, emphasized schools’ obligation to accept ZiG as part of the multi-currency system and affirmed parents’ right to choose their payment currency.

Last year, the government established rapid response centers nationwide for parents to report schools engaging in malpractices, including unilateral fee hikes and non-acceptance of local currency. Over 250 officials were assigned to handle reported cases. Mr. Mhike confirmed the revival of these centers, urging stakeholders to report concerns to district, provincial, or head office.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has received numerous complaints against schools for exchange control violations. FIU Director-General Mr. Oliver Chiperesa stated that action will be taken against schools found violating regulations, although most have cooperated and rectified illegal demands promptly.

National Association of Secondary School Heads president Mr. Arthur Maphosa assured that all members have been informed of ZiG’s status as legal tender and emphasized providing payment options to parents and guardians. While schools may negotiate with parents for foreign currency to purchase commodities like fuel, no one will be compelled to pay fees exclusively in foreign currency.