AMALGAMATED Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party for allegedly abusing schoolchildren and teachers for political expedience.
BY SILAS NKALA
In a statement, the union called upon the government to implement the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) recommendations or face legal action.
The union said education was a fundamental right which must be respected.
“ARTUZ in 2017 published a report in which it observed that teachers and learners were being forced to participate in the political activities of Zanu PF contrary to the provision of Section 86(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. This section provides for the rights of children and guarantees that they shall not be compelled to be part of any political gathering,” the union said.
“ARTUZ then launched the Safe Schools Campaign aimed at ensuring that the security and safety of teachers and learners is safeguarded before, during and after the 2018 plebiscite. The union also approached the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) raising a complaint of gross violations of both children and teachers’ rights.”
The teachers’ union said the commission made various recommendations to the political parties, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Justice ministry and Parliament.
The union claimed that none of the stakeholders had responded or given indication regarding how they intended to implement the recommendations.
“On April 25 ARTUZ wrote a follow up communique to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education demanding compliance with ZHRC recommendations. On June 11, at a rally at Chizanga Primary School in Mutoko, several schools from Maramba, Uzumba and Pfungwe had to suspend learning as teachers and school children were forced to attend the Zanu PF rally where President Mnangagwa addressed,” the union complained.
“June 15 was the same scenario in Masvingo where learning was literally suspended in schools around town including Mucheke High School as President Mnangagwa was set to address in Mucheke Stadium. This flies in the face of the recommendations in the investigative report by Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).”
ARTUZ also called on Sadc, the African Union and United Nations agencies to put pressure on the government to honour its obligations by barring political activities in schools in line with the union’s “Safe Schools Campaign”.