A NEW splinter teachers’ representative union, Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) has accused the leadership of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) of neglecting their members by meddling in party politics at the expense of their welfare.
RTUZ interim president Obert Masaure said Zimta and PTUZ leaders had become “political animals” and in the process exposed their members to political persecution.
“It’s not a secret that some leaders have become political animals like PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou, who contested in Mberengwa on an MDC-T ticket, but continues as the union’s leader, therefore, compromising his position,” Masaure said.
“Actually, Zimta is seen as pro-Zanu PF, while PTUZ is seen as pro-MDC-T, a situation that has put teachers in a very awkward situation.”
Masaure claimed that their membership had reached about
4 000 against the country’s teacher population of 120 000 members.
He said the new union would deal with the issues of rural allowances currently pegged at $12 per month, violence during election time as rural teachers were the most affected as well as their exclusion yet they constituted 70% of teachers.
Masaure said the RTUZ’s national executive council met in Harare last month and resolved to undertake a massive campaign dubbed Campaign Against Suicidal Policies in the Education Sector. The campaign, according to RTUZ, was aimed at fighting policies such as fees freeze when the government was failing to fund the Basic Education Assistance Model, and demand a compensatory rural allowance from government.
But both PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe and Zimta president Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday scoffed at Masaure’s claims.
“Such allegations are made by people who do not understand how union business should be conducted. It’s like expecting Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri or Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga to be stationed at a police station or a barrack,” Majongwe said.
Ndlovu denied charges that his union was political, adding that there was no need to form a specific union for rural teachers as they could be transferred to urban centres.
“Teachers are mobile and nobody is appointed in situ. This kind of thinking, that there is a rural teacher, is absurd. As an association, we draw our membership from all political spheres and we can’t be seen to be partisan,” he said.