The Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) is appalled and condemns the abuse of teachers, schoolchildren and school premises by Zanu PF secretary for the Women’s League, First Lady Grace Mugabe.
The overzealous Grace appears to have little regard for education and academic freedom, even though she claims to be a “PhD holder”, because of her consistent and deplorable conduct of disrupting learning in schools to allow her to perform her cheap political circuses. In all the areas which Grace Mugabe has visited, she has used school premises to hold her political rallies, the most recent being Kanyemba Secondary School in Chiweshe and Chimhanda Secondary School in Rushinga.
Firstly, members of her advance security team, often from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), arrive ahead of the event and are accommodated in staff quarters at nearby schools. While in these quarters, they threaten teachers and any other school staff who are suspected of not being interested in supporting Grace’s megalomaniac political ambitions.
To subject teachers to psychological torture has repercussions on their performance in class. Teachers are forced to deliver the “correct lessons” for as long as the CIO is around the school. This sometimes prejudices learners, especially in subjects such as history where certain topics and discussions are sensitive to Grace’s ecstatic fantasies. This conduct is against various declarations on academic freedom which maintain that security forces must not be deployed in learning institutions unless there is a real threat to property or life.
Secondly, by conducting her rallies on school premises, Grace is disrupting lessons and unnecessarily prejudicing young learners who are enthusiastic to learn.
Worse still, Grace wantonly violates the rights of children as set out in section 81, sub-section (2h) of the Constitution, which states that every child under the age of 18 years has the right not to be compelled to take part in any political activity. Conducting her rallies on school premises, with schoolchildren and during school hours makes her conduct ultra vires the constitutional provisions.
Therefore, what Grace is doing is to shred to tatters the national Constitution, which is the very basis of our democracy and this is unacceptable and criminal.
Given the hate speech, vulgarity, bellicosity, tribalism and naked violence which characterises Zanu PF rallies in general and Grace’s rallies in particular, the young vulnerable minds are being traumatised in ways beyond imagination.
It is disheartening to see 12-year-olds standing bemused as Grace vulgarises about her political party members’ sexual activities or when Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko spits out tribalism-loaded bile right into their young ears, piercing and wounding their consciences forever.
As RTUZ, we warn the temperamental Grace Mugabe to keep her toxic politics out of schools and allow genuine young learners to enjoy their right to education quietly to give them an opportunity to attain doctoral certificates.