By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure says his organisation has received reports that some of its members are already being intimidated ahead of the all-important 2018 general election.
Addressing a press conference recently, Masaraure said his members are being threatened by state agents for conducting the organisation’s activities.
“As the nation heads towards the highly contested 2018 elections, both in Zanu PF and outside, the political temperatures are already rising for teachers in rural outposts.
“Our leadership in provinces are being threatened by state security agents for their activities under ARTUZ and the recent case we are handling is that of our Mashonaland West chairperson Munyaradzi Ndawana who works in Makonde,” he said.
Ndawana is reported to have been summoned by state agents who went on to threaten and harassed him and have since declared him an enemy of the state after successfully conducting the #PocketsOutCampaign.
ARTUZ also raised concern over the continued political activities at schools and the force marching of school-children to the on-going youth interface rallies by Zanu PF.
“Since the opening of the new term, we have received dozens of reports of political activities at schools which are ultra vires section 81(h) of the constitution and we have witnessed school-children being forced to attend the youth interface rallies being held by Zanu-PF,” he said.
It is against this background that ARTUZ has launched a ‘Safe Schools’ campaign which will run until 2018 with the key objective of ensuring that students and teachers safety is not compromised before, during and after elections.
Meanwhile, ARTUZ has accused ZEC of trying to sideline teachers from the current BVR registration exercise.
“Most teachers who had been deployed to implement the BVR process have been scrapped off the list and are being replaced by officers from state security agents, military, police and Border Gezi National Youth Service,” said ARTUZ.
The rural teachers association has also called on Zimbabweans from all walks of life to join hands and welcome Dr Ignatius Chombo to the Finance Ministry by parading empty pockets this Friday in a campaign dubbed #PocketsOutCampaign which will be held every fortnight on Fridays.