HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSchools aren’t zones of political contention

Schools aren’t zones of political contention

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While politics is often referred to as a dirty game, it can be dirtier when it affects children’s basic right to education.

NewsDay Editorial

The case of a five-year-old pre-school going Harare boy who was last week reportedly expelled from creche at 1 Commando Barracks because of his father’s allegiance to the MDC-T is clear testimony of the need for security sector reforms.

Enos Choga’s father, Kubvoruno, is the MDC-T secretary for Chirumanzu Zibagwe district in Midlands South, but works in Harare.

Schools, whether private or government-owned, should never discriminate in their enrolment of pupils on the grounds of political affiliation. If the army, which is supposed to be impartial, stoops so low, then the dream of professionalism and political neutrality in the security sector is far from being realised. This further shows the urgency and importance of security sector reform.

Education minister David Coltart is on record saying schools must not be zones of political contention, but the behaviour by the army school leaves a lot to be desired.Questions abound on whether the curricular being taught is the same as the one taught in other schools. That Choga senior was interrogated over his political persuasion by the school authorities is a clear sign of how the army is meddling in politics and bent on eliminating from their schools anyone with links to parties viewed as pro-Western.

This explains the insistence of the MDC formations and other democratic forces on the need for security sector reform to ensure that the army is not partisan and is for the people, not for individual political parties seeking to cling on to power by any means possible.

Though Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore maintained that Enos was still at school, the behaviour by the army alienates itself from the people they are supposed to serve.

The latest development, together with cases of army chiefs blasting other political parties and vowing never to salute or at least recognise anything, but Zanu PF is clear indication of the significance of security sector reform in the country.

True to a recent Sadc resolution in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said security sector reform in Zimbabwe can no longer be postponed.

The development flies in the face of Zanu PF which has ruled out security sector reforms as demanded by the MDCs.  By law, children of civilians should be allowed to learn at institutions of their choice either owned by the army or otherwise.

The incident involving Choga’s child is a true reflection of the repressive behaviour to which a whole army can sink once it begins to sing for its supper and pander to the whims of politicians who have outlived their political shelf lives and use the army to prop them up to keep them in office.

We call on the army to “man up” and realise that their allegiance should be with the people of Zimbabwe and not a few politicians whose political careers are slowly trudging to an end.

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