The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union in Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has once again approached the High Court to enforce a provisional order barring Zanu PF from forcing school pupils and teachers to attend campaign rallies during school hours.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Justice Joseph Mafusire recently ruled in favour of ARTUZ, before Zanu PF last week appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court. The ruling party’s lawyer, Nickiel Mushangwe argued Mafusire’s verdict was defective since there was no evidence linking the party to the practice. Instead, Mushangwe said Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavhima was responsible for frog-marching pupils to party meetings.
The appeal then overturned the initial provisional order, meaning Zanu PF could continue forcing teachers to fund its functions as well as using school buses and forcing pupils to political gatherings until the Supreme Court has made a determination on the matter on July 27, three days before the general elections.
ARTUZ lawyer, Doug Coltart, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application for leave to execute pending appeal at the same court. He argued the appeal by Zanu PF was devoid of merit and seeks to expose pupils to harm.
Coltart claimed that after Justice Mafusire’s order last month, Zanu PF continued to frogmarch pupils to its rallies in Mberengwa, Bindura, Gokwe and Chivhu.
He also argued that the appeal by Zanu PF goes against the letter and spirit of the United Nations which issued a statement saying schools should be safe havens for children. He also produced screenshots of violence that erupted at Mnangagwa’s Bindura rally last week, saying it endangered pupils.
“Almost immediately after filing its notice to appeal the respondents began perpetrating the same violations that the High Court order protected against. In light of this, we bring this urgent chamber application for leave to execute pending appeal so that teachers and children may continue to benefit from the legal protection granted to them by this court until the matter is heard by the Supreme Court,” the counter appeal filed by Coltart, read. The matter was yet to be set down for hearing yesterday.