THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has written to the government recommending the closure of schools next week so that teachers are spared political victimisation by Zanu PF activists and members of the party’s shadowy group Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) in rural areas ahead of the 23 August elections.
The letter, addressed to Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Thumisang Thabela and dated 12 July 2023, was signed by Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere.
The labour union said it has received 567 cases of distress from its members countrywide since President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed the elections. The union proposed that schools close on 18 July 2023, so that teachers are spared the abuse.
Part of the letter reads: “The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Artuz, wishes to advise your good office that our members have proposed an early closing date on 18 July 2023. The proposal has been necessitated by escalating political conflict ahead of the 23 August 2023. The conflict has also spilled into schools as politicians tussle for political power.”
Artuz cited two cases which it said are part of the 567.
“Find below two sample reports from members . . . On Tuesday 4 July all Chidoma Primary School learners were ordered by one head Assa Moyo to go back home at exactly 0830hrs because there was a Zanu PF rally at Chidoma dip tank.
“The grade 7 classroom was used as the caucus room for Zanu PF officials. ECD A classroom was used as the kitchen. At the rally Zanu PF midlands vice-chairman, one Chiherenge, ordered all school heads that no school learner must pay fees until voting day. All teachers were ordered to go to the rally. We couldn’t take videos for fear of victimisation as teachers,” reads the letter.
Chidoma Primary School is in Gokwe.
The NewsHawks gathered that the said rally was later addressed by former State Security minister Owen Ncube.
The union also attached a letter of complaint from one of its members who complained about the invasion of the school by Faz.
Part of the letter received by Artuz reads:” Greetings, hope you are well. Sir we are having problems at our school. We have got someone residing at our school anoti iye mudhomeni (who claims to be an agricultural extension officer) and is refusing to vacate the school accommodation. Staff is having problems of accommodation. Parikuuya zvekare mumwe munhu zvekare anoti ndeve Faz achiitisa musangano yeZanu PF pachikoro (someone claiming to be a member of Faz is also conducting Zanu PF meetings at the school)… We need your help before we are terrorised.” Artuz said it hoped the ministry would act to protect teachers and learners.
“The union has received 567 reports of such worrying content from different schools across the country. We hope your good office will protect the teacher, learner and the whole school ecosystem by allowing an early schools closure,” wrote Chere.
In an interview with The NewsHawks, Obert Masaraure, the Artuz president, said schools are no longer safe for teachers.
“Our plea is that schools be closed next week until after elections. We have noted the cases of victimisation of our members in previous elections and we suspect the situation can get worse. So we have decided to call for early closure of schools,” he said.