BY BRENNA MATENDERE/ SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has thrown its weight behind Njube High School biology teacher, Brian Mutsiba, who has gone into hiding after police in Bulawayo launched a manhunt to arrest him on allegations of inciting pupils at the school to protest on Monday.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed police were looking for Mutsiba.
“We are investigating a case of a teacher who is alleged to have taken manila paper and wrote messages and gave students in a demonstration, “ Nyathi said.
He said the teacher was on the run.
“We have not yet apprehended the suspect but we are confident he will be arrested soon,” Nyathi said.
More than 150 pupils from Njube High School protested against steep fees hike and marched to Entumbane complex while waving placards. They also pulled down the portrait of President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the staff room and brought down the national flag during the protests.
The pupils were protesting against the increase in school fees from $92 to $440 per term. Riot police had to be called in to quell the protest.
PTUZ leader Takavafira Zhou told Southern Eye that Mutsiba and the Njube students deserved support and likened their demonstration to South Africa’s Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976.
“Never mind what those far-detached from classrooms will say, Mutsiba and Njube High School students are heroes and heroines. In Zimbabwe they have emulated what Mabvuku and Tafara High school students did in 2002 and regionally, the Soweto uprising,” he said.
“PTUZ sees no wrong done by this teacher and Njube High students and is ready to defend and stand in solidarity with them. Extremism in defence of what is right is no vice. Teachers have a dispute against the government. The students of Njube High School have entered the annals of history in defence of their education as a right, just like in the Soweto uprising.”
“Their grievances are sound, pragmatic and realistic in defence of their educational rights. They were very peaceful in exercising their freedom of expression at a crucial juncture when there is deadlock and quandary in the education system, which the government sadly is not eager and ready to address as a matter of urgency,” Zhou said.
“If we had a thousand such teachers and schools, our struggles could be fast-tracked and government forced to address the plight of teachers as a matter of urgency. The educational courts of justice will find him and the students innocent, and this is final,” Zhou said.