By Sheryleen Masuku
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe ARTUZ said it is concerned by ZANU PF’s victimisation of teachers in rural areas, this comes amid reports of an increase in politicaly motivated violence in communities taking part in electoral registration process.
In a press statement released yesterday 17 May, ARTUZ said reports that teachers are being victimised by ZANU PF in Wedza are very disturbing.
“ARTUZ has received disturbing reports of teacher victimization in Wedza District by an identified ruling party( ZANU PF) official, one individual named Kahonde who has been on a terror campaign of moving around schools forcing teachers to form ZANU PF cells and threatening them with unspecified action,” reads the statement.
ARTUZ said they have received increasing number of reports from rural teachers who are being forced to partake in ZANU PF activities ahead of the 2023 elections which is reminiscent of former President Robert Mugabe’s bloody 2008 election campaign which saw teachers being abducted, tortured and killed for refusing to support ZANU PF.
“This is a disturbing trend whilst not a new phenomenon under ZANU PF’s iron fisted rule of coercion and threats, it is now worrying how such cases of teachers being forced to toe the ZANU line are increasing especially as the country heads towards the 2023 polls and grim memories of 2008 are conjured by this kind of reckless behaviour”.
“ZANU PF has constantly abused the school system to maintain their grip hold on power and with reference to past scenarios, ARTUZ is worried that this situation will further degenerate into chaos and violence as witnessed in the past were teachers have been abducted, tortured or even killed for failing to support the ruling party’s programs”.
ARTUZ has called on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to launch an immediate investigation on ZANU PF’s victimization of teachers in Wedza. The association has threatened to name and shame ZANU PF perpetrators.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project ZPP yesterday expressed concern over the abuse of rural teachers stating that:
“Allegations by ARTUZ that teachers in Wedza are being forced to be a part of ZANU PF official activities are worrying. They come as ZPP has recorded a rise in election related rights violations in communities during the month of April”.
Opposition leaders from the MDC Alliance have also condemned the ongoing harassment of teachers with MDC Alliance Vice Chairman, Job Sikhala publishing an open letter from a disgruntled party member in Bikita who alleged that teachers are being forced to form ZANU PF cells in the community
“I’m teaching in Bikita and we are being forced to form ZANU PF cells comprising women’s league, youth league at every school. I don’t know how our party might expose these shenanigans and stop abuse of rural teachers, nurses and other government employees” said the anonymous teacher.