BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Teachers and nurses in Bikita are reportedly being forced to join local Zanu PF structures and meetings as the ruling party goes on a massive recruitment drive ahead of the 2023 polls.
Some of the teachers who were railroaded to the meetings last Friday said the practice had affected learning and had left them in panic mode.
They said they were being threatened with unspecified action if they refused and this was a sad reminder of the bloody 2008 elections, where they were targeted for assault and torture after being accused of supporting the opposition.
A teacher at Mukore High School, who refused to be identified for fear of reprisals, said ward eight councillor, one Sibanda, ordered the teachers to report for Zanu PF meetings last Friday.
Sibanda, whose first name could not be immediately ascertained, was not available for a comment as the number shared by our sources was offline.
“On Friday, schools around Mukore and clinics were summoned to send a representative to the Zanu PF ward meeting,” another teacher at Mukore High School said.
“These representatives were openly told that there is no difference between government and Zanu PF, so all government workers must join the party starting at cell level.
“They were instructed to go and write all names of staff and form party structures at their respective stations. They were told that civil servants who will resist this will face unspecified punishment and will not benefit from government-initiated programmes since they say there is no difference between government and Zanu PF.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure confirmed receipt of such complaints by some teachers in Bikita and urged Zanu PF to do its recruitment drive without using force.
“The ruling party should desist from employing archaic tactics of voter mobilisation. The regime should mobilise through popular appeal not to use coercion. Artuz will soon be dragging the ruling party to court and bar it from accessing our schools,” he said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo urged affected teachers and other civil servants to report the perpetrators to the police.
“This is not the first time we are hearing such reports from Artuz. We do not tolerate such practice, if ever it is happening,” he said.
“That is not our party policy, and we abhor such practice. It’s unacceptable and the victims should alert the provincial party leadership and report the perpetrators to the police.”