Zhou told NewsDay that the salary gap had generated discontent among civil servants, raising speculation that government was now more concerned with power retention at the expense of service delivery.
Reports suggest that soldiers, police, intelligence and prison officers were now earning between $10 000 and $18 000, about two-and-a-half times more than teachers whose salaries range between $3 800 and $4 200.
"It's clear now those with access to firearms like soldiers, police, CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and the prisons are getting preferential treatment over teachers and health workers. The only explanation for this is that we have a government that is preoccupied with investing in power retention as opposed to delivery," Zhou said.
"Soldiers and police are now earning between $10 000 and $18 000, while teachers' salaries have remained static at between $3 800 and $4 200. These discrepancies are the reason for industrial disharmony in the education and health sectors. They are a security threat," he added.
"This downgrading treatment of other professionals generates discontent and industrial disharmony. Teaching is the mother of all professions. Previously, the differences between teachers' salaries and soldiers and police was based on the responsibilities and qualifications. We are not envying their (soldiers and police) salaries because in any case, $18 000 is less than what teachers were earning in 2018," he said, adding that teachers had not yet accessed the US$75 COVID-19 allowances promised, while the uniformed forces had accessed theirs.
"The tragedy is that we have a government that has no national plan. They think that when you have a big office, you have monopoly over wisdom. Wisdom does not come through osmosis, it comes through engagement and reading. They want to be respected because of the offices they occupy. They hate us because we tell them the truth. I don't respect portfolios, I respect ideas. All these ministers of education are not appreciative of education. They have been a liability, the worst in history. The only Ministers of Education of repute we have had are Dzingai Mutumbuka and Fay Chung," charged Zhou.
Contacted for comment over the alleged pay differences, Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said government valued all its employees.
"Government values both its military and its teaching fraternity. Pay scales are not a competition. The current focus is to ensure that whoever serves their country in any capacity is paid at least a living wage which gives them a decent life. Government will continue to rationalise all incomes as efficiencies are realised and more resources unlocked," he said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government, which came to power through the November 2017 military coup after toppling long time ruler, the late President Robert Mugabe, has been accused of pampering security forces probably to avoid mutiny.
On Friday, Mnangagwa's administration, heavily deployed soldiers and police to thwart a planned protest organised by opposition political parties and civic organisations.
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