Power and Politics

M’membe, Socialist Party leader, calls for end to pricing of school fees in dollars


Socialist Party president, Dr Fred M’membe, has called on government to intervene in the matter in which some private schools are quoting their school fees in foriegn currency.

M’membe noted with concern that the upmarket private schools are doing this on the pretext that they pay expatriate staff salaries in United States (US) dollars.

The Socialist Party leader said the Minister of Education, Douglas Syakalima, should request all private schools to price in Kwacha and not dollars and to stop this abuse.

He expressed shock that despite this practice, the bulk of their costs was in Zambian Kwacha such as water, electricity, fuel, general staff wages, and so on and so forth.

“The issue of quoting salaries in dollars presupposes that parents are earning their income in dollars,” M’membe said.

He stated that this was true for expatriates but completely untrue for local Zambians whose children attend the schools and their salaries/incomes are in Kwacha.

M’membe said this should not be allowed where schools were operating in Zambia for expatriates only and excluding Zambians in a subtle way through dollarisation of school fees.

“As an example, if you pay $10,000 per year in school fees. When the exchange rate was K16 and you paid K160,000. Now the exchange rate is K27, it means you are now paying K270,000,” he stated.

The Socialist Party leader said what was more ironic was that these schools were increasing fees annually, and that Zambians were being milked.

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“Zambians should be protected from being marginalised in their own country. What’s even annoying is that Zambian academic staff are paid in Kwacha, and their expatriate colleagues are paid in dollars for the same work,” M’membe said.

He asked whether expatriates are more important than Zambians, saying countries like South Africa, all salaries were in Rand whether expatriate or not.

“Why should only foreigners benefit in Zambia and Zambians marginalised? For equity purposes, Zambian staff should also be paid in dollars,” M’membe questioned.

He expressed worry that the Bank of Zambia was allowing dollarisation of the economy when the only legal tender in Zambia was the Kwacha.

M’membe said with this volatile exchange rate, it was hurting Zambians badly adding that even in the real estate business, rentals go up every month as the exchange rate slides.

“It’s time the Bank of Zambia issued a statutory instrument to price all goods and services in Kwacha,” he demanded.

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