BY SILAS NKALA
THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) says the education sector is under siege as government insists on frustrating teachers through poor salaries and unsafe working conditions.
The remarks came at a time various teachers’ unions have complained over their members’ exposure to COVID-19 and lack of preparedness by the government to prevent the spread of the pandemic in schools.
“The recent amplified assault on the teaching profession in Zimbabwe is a genuine cause for worry,” said Artuz secretary-general Robson “Nikita” Chere.
“We have entered the new year, already 2021 is appearing gloomy and dark after a horrific 2020 that was characterised by State-sponsored violence towards political, social and economic activists, salaries that fell way below the poverty datum line, unsafe working conditions especially during a time COVID-19 was wreaking havoc.”
He said government had made it a crime to demand a living wage as evidenced by the response of the State on trade union leaders and all dissenting voices that were being crushed ruthlessly for daring to speak out against any form of injustice.
He added that the recent incarceration of Artuz executive Sheila Chisirimunhu defied common sense on a very grand scale.
“Zimbabwe has become a fully-fledged dictatorship where human rights and worker rights are no longer a concern of the government and are violated with serious impunity that one will be forgiven to think that Zimbabwe is still stuck in the days of monarchies,” he said.
“Teachers declared incapacitation not for the love of resistance, but as a genuine clarion call and cry for the government to heed their concerns, but the response from the government was one of ignorance and lack of sympathy for the teachers, hence the need to amplify the fight towards the realisation of the teaching profession as one of the core pillars of the nation.”
Chere said the teaching profession was ripe for a revolution within itself.
“Teachers need to organise themselves, resist and fight such tyranny as it is against not only their interests but that of the nation.”
“Government is responsible for the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in schools and this is clearly evidenced by their command approach in forcing schools and examination centres to open when the health of teachers and learners is at risk.”
He said the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council had basically created infection hubs in examination marking centres.