Cars without number plates parked outside his house. His dogs poisoned. Ahead of a planned civil servants’ go-slow over unpaid bonuses in Zimbabwe on Monday, a teachers’ union chief has been complaining about what he says is state harassment.
Harare – Cars without number plates parked outside his house. His dogs poisoned.
Ahead of a planned civil servants’ go-slow over unpaid bonuses in Zimbabwe on Monday, a teachers’ union chief has been complaining about what he says is state harassment.
In a string of tweets posted over the last few days, Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has hit back at a smear campaign in state media.
“Someone must come and ask my neighbours [about] the state harassment I endure. I always wonder when I read people accusing me of links with ZANU. SO SAD,” Majongwe said.
Report for work but don’t teach
Monday’s job action was initially billed as a strike and there was talk of demonstrations.
But now teachers are being advised to report for work but not teach as negotiations continue, according to a statement from the APEX Council, which represents all civil servants. Teachers are angry that they haven’t been paid their 13th salary cheques from 2016 and they’re unhappy with a government offer to give them housing stands (which they’ll still have to pay for). Hospital doctors have just ended a strike over pay after minimal concessions were made.
State media, which is overwhelmingly loyal to President Robert Mugabe, has been very critical of the strike plans. The Herald newspaper published a photo of Majongwe’s home and suggested that he and other union chiefs were getting “rich pickings” from union members’ subscriptions.
The PTUZ boss hit back angrily, claiming police officers had walked into his house in a middle-income suburb of Harare to harass his family. “Photos of everything taken even children,” he tweeted.
Later he added: “As usual another unplated car was parked here with no driver in sight. But next thing it’s gone.”
There’s no independent confirmation of the union boss’s claims – and it needs to be said that Majongwe’s outspokenness has earned him critics both from among Mugabe’s supporters and those who wouldn’t consider themselves aligned to the Zimbabwe government.
Ex-fin min’s support
But state media’s attack on Majongwe earned him some sympathy – and former finance minister Tendai Biti tweeted his support.
“The attack on Ray Majongwe & other Union leaders is crude & below the belt. It is hypocritical & unwarranted.
@HeraldZimbabwe is shameless,” Biti said.
Ahead of Monday’s go-slow, Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Minister Prisca Mupfumira told the privately-owned Standard newspaper: “We have deployed inspectors across the country and anyone not working will face the consequences.”