Rural teachers: Victims of political violence

BULAWAYO - Teachers inrural areas will be victims of politically-motivated violence in the forthcoming elections since the environment has not changed from 2008, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has said.

Speaking at the launch of a report on the experiences of teachers with elections entitled: Every school has a story to tell on Thursday evening, Enoch Paradzayi PTUZ national coordinator said the government needs to intervene immediately and make sure teachers are protected during elections.

“The government of Zimbabwe must immediately declare schools as zones of peace and as such enact laws that restrict and criminalise the use or occupation of schools for political activities, especially during the electoral period,” Paradzayi said.

“The ministry of Education in conjunction with critical stakeholders like the police, parents and teachers unions must set up school protection committees so that school services rendered by schools are not interrupted during times of conflict like elections.”

PTUZ said they had tabled the report before David Coltart, minister of Education sports and culture and they were waiting for his response.

In the report, Zanu PF was named as the chief instigator of violence against teachers at schools. War veterans, Central Intelligence Organisations and Zimbabwe National Army were also named as the main perpetrators of violence.

The report said teachers were being victimised by militias who camped at schools before and during elections.

In some cases teachers suspected to be sympathetic to the MDC formations are beaten or abducted.

Paradzayi said if the government did not intervene and enact laws to declare schools as peace zones, teachers should move away from schools before and during election period.

“There is no need for teachers to get themselves killed because it doesn’t pay to be a fallen hero. If the government is reluctant to implement strategies that protect teachers during campaign time and elections, I suggest they should stay away from schools,” Paradzayi said. - Lloyd Mbiba

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