Mnangagwa’s shadowy group invades schools
A SHADOWY group backing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to maintain a stranglehold on power has invaded schools to solicit the support of teachers ahead of next year’s crunch elections.
Operating under the moniker Teachers4ED, the group has already been given the greenlight by the Education ministry to conduct its campaigns.
In separate interviews, leaders of teacher unions however said they are not in support of the Teachers4ED campaigns because schools are learning institutions that must not be mired in politics.
The teacher unions’ resistance to the creation of the group comes against the background of the government’s unbridled support for the project.
In a letter dated 22 June 2022, Tumisang Thabela, the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s permanent secretary, gave her thumbs-up for the shadowy group to launch structures in provinces and work in schools.
The letter, obtained by The NewsHawks, was addressed to the Teachers4ED’s secretary-general Takaiteyi Masikati.
Part of Thabela’s letter to Masikati reads:
“It is noted that Teachers for Economic Development has completed setting up structures in the ten provinces of the country and requested for authority launch the Provincial Chapters and the National Chapter.”
“In view of the above, authority is hereby granted to conduct the Provinciual and National launches of the Teachers for Economic Development. Kindly liaise with Provincial Education Directors in the respective provinces on the suitable dates and venues for the launches.”
Contacted for comment, Masikati said he preferred to comment in writing.
However, he later refused to comment on the written questions, saying there had been a lot of “falsification of information on our orgainsation”.
In his brief statement he said: “Our organisation is very open to discussions but not in the media as it has been associated with falsification of information.”
Teachers are a vital cog in Zimbabwe’s elections both as individual voters and monitors of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on actual polling day.
Robson Chere, the secretary-general of the Obert Masaraure-led Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) told The NewsHawks that “political vultures” must stay away from schools.
“We urge the teachers to disregard, disapprove and dismiss the abuse of the teacher through the commissariate schemes played by the regime under the guise of such projects as Teachers4ED.”
“Teachers should be let free and distant from partisan politics and, if they choose to be involved, let it be voluntary and outside work bounds. The constitution of Zimbabwe under sections 64 and 65 clearly makes a demand for good administrative conduct that is free from political intrusion,” he said.
Chere, who has been arrested several times for leading teachers’ protests against bad government practices, said his organisation will not condone the exploitation of the education sector by Zanu PF which is coercing teachers to toil as political commissars.
“The independence and freedom of the teacher should be respected. What boggles the mind is that the very same system that has created poverty, misery and demeaned our profession is now coming back under the banner of Teachers4ED.”
“We cant be expected to live on dog tax disguised as a salary and then allow the same source of the problem to try and come in dark garments of Teachers4ED pretending to have solutions for our suffering, yet we know that their interest is mainly to harvest votes from the education sector,” said Chere.
Takavafira Zhou, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, also expressed disdain over the emergence of the Teachers4ED group.
“The best way to discredit them is to accept them into the teaching terrain where they will prove to be lackeys, clients and cronies of Zanu PF,” he said.
“We also hope that government has not been underpaying teachers in order to use this outfit as a conduit for nominal improvement of conditions of service so as to guarantee them a modicum of respectability in return for votes,” added Zhou.