HARARE, March 18- Zimbabwe’s Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Oppah Muchinguri, says the government has released outstanding salaries for lecturers and staff at state universities to end the strikes at the institutions.

Lecturers at state universities, including Midlands State University (MSU), the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) and the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), went on strike last week in protest at the non-payment of February salaries, and last year’s bonuses.

Muchinguri told the media here Tuesday that she met with representatives of university staff before appealing to Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa for an urgent solution to end strikes at the institutions of higher learning, as well as a demonstration by students at the UZ.

“I wish to confirm the position taken as follows: that salaries will be mobilized and released before the end of the day, Tuesday, 17 March 2015, whilst the (payment of the) bonus will be staggered,” she said, adding that the universities should resume operations with immediate effect.

“Pursuant to this resolve, members of staff in all State Universities are requested to resume normal teaching, learning and research activities with immediate effect,” she said.

Muchinguri said the Treasury had highlighted the financial challenges the government is facing and efforts being made to address the situation at state universities. “Treasury officials expressed their sincerest regret over the dismal failure to meet the dates designated as pay dates,” she said.

Meanwhile, the UZ announced on Tuesday it was closing until March 24, 2015, after students demonstrated in solidarity with lecturers and non-academic staff.

However, Muchinguri said the UZ would open for lectures on Wednesday. “We have been communicating with Vice-Chancellor Levy Nyagura to discuss the way forward given what we agreed with workers’
representatives. He did agree that he took the decision to close because of the demonstrations which took place,” she added.

“We both have agreed that activities have to resume and UZ will be opened tomorrow morning (Wednesday) with lectures. I hope all the institutions will adhere to the directive.”