Zimbabwe schools probed over uniform sales

Main Story Zimbabwe

Patience Nhamburo

The resumption of face to face classes saw parents running around in last minute preparations to send their children back to school.

The new school calendar paved way for new intakes in schools – Form 1 students, Grade 1s, ECDs and in some cases new comers. In preparation for the first term, parents found themselves in a dilemma after uniform prices skyrocketed, leaving some unable to meet the school requirements.

Some schools compelled parents to buy uniforms at the school and were reported to be demanding payment in US dollars only, while the prices were triple or more compared to those being charged by local uniform retailers in the CBD.

Zimbabwe’s Competition and Tariff Commission is now investigating schools in the country for allegedly breaching the competition act by selling and distributing school uniforms. Claims are that some schools are forcing parents and guardians to exclusively buy uniforms from specific suppliers. Some schools are also selling their own uniforms at higher prices.

The Commission’s Senior Research Officer, Tatenda Zengeni said what the schools are doing is wrong.

“The alleged practice by schools may deprive parents and guardians of their right to choice. Uniform retailers say they have been pushed out of business as most schools in the country are now selling uniforms direct to the parents.
“The move by the schools to sell uniforms direct to the parents has crippled our business. They sell the uniforms at such high prices than us and force the parents to buy at the school. I am a parent, I sell uniforms, but I was required to buy uniforms for my child at her school,” said Auxillia, a retailer.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said parents are allowed to buy uniforms from their own suppliers.

“Schools are not allowed to force parents to buy uniforms from specific suppliers.

On the other hand parents are allowed to buy uniforms from their chosen suppliers as long as they are within the school guidelines and it’s the correct school colours.