By Lerato Ndlovu
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) members in Midlands province are living in fear following a number of alleged attacks on some of them by their schools’ administration leaders.
Giving a passionate plea to the responsible authority through a communique ARTUZ National President, Mr. Obert Masaraure urged the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to intervene and bring sanity in the industry and allow the members to exercise their democratic right.
In the statement published on 26 January, Mr Masaraure, said “ARTUZ is irked by the barbaric conduct of some school administrators in the Midlands province who are victimizing our members, the misguided school authorities are becoming law unto themselves, disregarding human rights of teachers and inciting communities to victimize our members.”
He went on to say that there has been a sudden rise on such cases in the province that are a big cause for concern considering that those who should be safeguarding them are the ones victimizing them.
“We have cases that are affecting our members and their commitment in the province leading them to being incapacitated and failing to report for duty.
“The most recent case of Mr Manzungu, a teacher at Simana Primary School in Silobela, Kwekwe district, who is now living in the bush after the school headmaster working in cahoots with some community members, evicted our member from school residence on the 23rd of January.
“He however got death threats from some community members and filed a police report at Silobela station at 0800hrs the same day, requesting state protection but nothing has been done by the police and Manzungu is still receiving the same threats.
Manzungu is said to have requested for transfers from the District offices but has received no response yet.
“Our member has requested to be transferred from this hazardous work station but some human resources officials at Kwekwe district education offices have flatly refused and further declared that Mr Manzungu should go back to Simana and face the music.
“The barbaric conduct of the education officials is shocking and will not go unchallenged. We are working flat out to guarantee the safety of our member and ensure that all perpetrators are forced to account.” He said. “We are reliably informed that state agents in Midlands have boasted that they are cleaning the President’s province. These agents are inciting school authorities and communities to victimize our members.”
Masaraure stated that the union has another issue from 2019 that they are still working on that involves Gokwe District Education officers.
“In September 2019 we had a similar case of Gerald Tapera a Maths teacher at Mapfungautsi Secondary school in Gokwe. Tapera was evicted from school residence and barred from attending to his duties by the school headmaster working with ZANU PF members in the community.
“Mr Tapera went to report to the District officials seeking recourse. No action was taken and his salary was ceased for absenteeism at a time he was being blocked from performing his professional duties. They chased him from the school and charged him for being absent.” He said. “We are battling to get justice for Cde Tapera, with education officials at Gokwe district being antagonistic and disregarding the legitimate concerns of our member.”
“These two cases are just a tip of the iceberg, we are documenting a lot of cases from this province, we will not be deterred by these cowardly acts, we will descent on Midlands province and confront these cowards until justice is served,” he said.