SECURITY agents, war veterans and Zanu PF youths are reportedly intimidating teachers ahead of their planned industrial action starting today in a move they allege is meant to cow them into submission, the Daily News can report.
The country’s educators represented by two of the biggest teachers’ unions, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) took the decision to down tools having given notice to strike a fortnight ago after government refused to accede to their demands to be paid in United States dollars or up their salaries to $1 700 (bond or RTGs) for the lowest paid worker.
But speaking to the Daily News yesterday ahead of today’s strike PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe made sensational claims that some teachers in Mashonaland West Province were called by the police as well as the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) “for identification”.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya told the Daily News that while he was unaware of the intimidation claims, ex-freedom fighters are of the suspicion that teachers are working with the MDC to unseat President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
“We don’t believe this is still a labour issue because teachers should understand that government has no money as it is also failing to pay us as war veterans.
‘‘If they are being political and working with the MDC and some Western governments as we suspect, they must come out clean so that we, together with government change our ways of dealing with them as well as change the instruments.
“If that story comes out in the media when we have not received any such report from our provinces to say we will beat up teachers, then they must know that they have picked a fight against us and I don’t know how they will live in areas such as Mudzi,” warned Mahiya.
Majongwe claimed that PTUZ deputy chairperson for the province Aston Muyeye stationed at Munyaradzi Primary School in Kadoma had been called by one sergeant Patika who said he only wanted to identify him.
Patika could neither deny nor confirm the incident saying “there are some things that I cannot speak to you over the phone unless you can come to the station so we can talk”.
He referred further questions to the officer in charge of Rimuka Police Station in Kadoma who also referred this paper to the district spokesperson whose number was not reachable.
Majongwe condemned the police actions saying they also stood to benefit from the action by teachers.
“It is unfortunate that they want to politicise our strike that is based on genuine demands by workers for better working conditions from their employer.
“This tactic of instilling fear in labour won’t fly because what we are demanding is genuine and that gives us strength.
“Why are they intimidating Muyeye by seeking to identify him by face? This is not fair,” Majongwe fumed.
This comes amid divisions in the civil service with the Apex Council that represents all government workers insisting on giving negotiations with their employer.
After meeting with government officials Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander emerged to warn her colleagues that going on strike at the moment was risky as their action would be hijacked by political parties.
“We are giving dialogue a chance since the doors for talks are still open and government said they are looking at non-monetary issues,” Alexander said.
Civil servants are demanding over $1 700 for the lowest paid worker but government offered a maximum of $100 pay hike for the lowest paid worker.