HARARE - Police yesterday brutally crushed a demonstration by the country’s under-appreciated rural teachers — who were desperately bidding to force the broke government to honour its pledge to pay them their 13th cheque.
The Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ), together with the Zimbabwe Activist Alliance (ZAA) and the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) gathered at Market Square in the capital before toyi-toying towards Fourth Street, using Nelson Mandela Avenue with the intention of making a stopover at Parliament Building before handing petitions to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and his Public Service counterpart Prisca Mupfumira at their offices.
However, the over 50 placard-waving protestors were soon to come face to face with the country’s law enforcement agents at the intersection of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Third Street — where dozens of baton stick-wielding police officers in anti-riot gear, descended on them and viciously beat them up.
“Mugabe promised us our bonuses where is the bonus? Amai nababa tofa nenzara imi muchidya nekunwa kuFar East (Father and mother we are starving while you feast in a foreign land).
“No bonus, no salary, no work” and “Give our ZRP, army, nurses, doctors and teachers their salaries now,” read some of the placards.
At a time when the country is faced with unrest — due to unfulfilled pledges and hunger — President Robert Mugabe and his family are currently on holiday in the Far East something the opposition says is the clearest indication that the Zanu PF leader is insensitive to the plight of the masses.
ZAA national coordinator Tendai Mudewe told the Daily News that some of the protestors were seriously injured and were receiving treatment at a private hospital in the capital while others were arrested.
“I am currently at the hospital with some of our injured members. The RTUZ president (Obey) Masaraure and others have been arrested and are currently held at Harare Central Police Station where I am heading to as soon as I make sure that the other comrades here have received treatment. The struggle still continues until we get the government to respect us,” Mudewe said.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba was not immediately available for comment with an official who answered her phone saying she was in a meeting.
Gift Mtisi, the protestors’ attorney, confirmed of his clients’ arrest, saying no charge had been preferred against them by midday yesterday.
“Masaraure and his secretary-general Robson Chere, together with another RTUZ official, Pride Mkono, have been arrested but in the meantime, I am making frantic efforts to get them access to medical care because they have been assaulted. The police have not yet charged them because they want to transfer them to the law and order section,” Mtisi said.