WHY DECLARE WAR ON TEACHERS?

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President Obert Masaraure
President Obert Masaraure

Zanu PF must now stop the war it declared on the Zimbabwean teachers in 1999. For many years now, the Zanu PF government has been squeezing teachers like lemons in Zimbabwe. It boggles the mind how a government can actually wage a war against its own teachers.

By Tapfuma Mushayi

One would wonder why this government still view teachers with suspicion, contempt and hatred. The ‘noble’ profession has been relegated into a disappointing occupation mocked even by rank marshals in Zimbabwe. Actually the teaching profession has been driven into a shocking state of paralysis. The teachers are dejected, demoralized and have no esteem anymore which the profession used to carry.

It should be noted that Zimbabwean teachers are the most dedicated and committed not only in our region. Despite all the hardships and negative conditions they work under in Zimbabwe, they still deliver their duties with massive diligence and commitment. For that the teachers should be recognized and applauded. Zimbabwean teachers have been on point in implementing the tedious new curriculum, updating the paper files and documents, lesson planning, co-curricular activities and a whole lot of other duties assigned to them by their superiors. In return what they get reminds us of slavery. This madness must surely be stopped.

This is the extent to which Zimbabwean teachers have sunk. A 3000 Rand per month job advertisement in South Africa has attracted massive responses from qualified teachers in Zimbabwe. A family in South Africa advertised on social media looking for a qualified teacher to work for them as a maid in Pretoria.

The maid will be helping the kids with their homework as well apart from other duties in the house. It is logical for a teacher in Buhera South to accept the offer as the 3000 Rand is more than double what the teacher is getting in Zimbabwe. Working in South Africa will also give the teacher an opportunity to live in a country with a high level of affluence and to access better services and goods.

Apart from issues to do with teacher remuneration and incentives, Zimbabwean teachers have for years been victims of state sponsored violence and brutality. Such madness started in 1999 as teachers were being punished by the Zanu PF government for sympathizing with and supporting the newly formed MDC party. The Mugabe regime confronted teachers especially those in rural areas with untold brutality with the aim to silence them and to squash their influence in society which was regarded as being anti-Zanu PF.

War veterans and the notorious youth brigade from the National Youth Service was unleashed in the rural areas for this purpose. In year 2010, a survey conducted by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) suggested that between 65 000-75 000 teachers were displaced from their stations due to violence by the war veterans and the rogue youth militia.

It is sad to note that violence on teachers did not end with Robert Mugabe, in the so called new dispensation the madness against teachers is still hugely visible. Obert Masaraure the President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) was recently abducted and assaulted allegedly by state security agents and he was dumped outside a military base just outside Harare. It should be noted that ARTUZ had approached the High Court in 2018 seeking a court interdict to stop Zanu PF from forcing teachers and pupils to attend and boost numbers at Zanu PF political rallies.

The government of Zimbabwe should now change its paradigm in managing the teaching profession. They should accept there is an urgent need to resuscitate the profession. Students in teachers’ colleges should start feeling that they will soon be joining a profession they will enjoy working in.

The government should stop seeing enemies in the teachers but a vital human capital which takes custodianship of the country’s future, its children. The government must be heard speaking about the important role of teachers in transforming the society. The government must be seen on the ground working to restore the dignity of teachers. Actually it is the role of the state to create an enabling environment which motivates and inspires educators.

It should be noted that the government will do less for the teachers if critical political and economic structures are not created. The government will remain with no capacity to implement fair labour practices as long as the finance minister Mr Mthuli Ncube continues to mislead the nation by claiming that he has instituted measures to stabilize prices goods and services.

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