Zimbabwe: Tortured teachers released from hospital

By Ezekiel Chiwara

The nine members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) who were tortured, allegedly at the Zanu PF Harare Provincial Office in Harare’s Central Business District have been released from Avenues Clinic.
The Zimbabwe Guardian visited the hospital an hour before the tortured teachers were released. They narrated their ordeals at the hands of suspected Zanu PF militias who are said to have assaulted them in front of armed police force.

Linda Fumphande, a teacher at Kubatana Primary School, one of the PTUZ members who were assaulted, said her experience was horrific as she at one time thought that she was not going to survive.

“They took turns to assault me. They were heavily drugged and accused me of campaigning against President Mugabe. They said they were going to teach me a lesson which I will never forget,” she said, adding that one of the men, nicknamed ‘Gunman’ even had the audacity to request a ZRP police officer who was guarding the entrance, not to continue watching the beating as it was now going to turn nasty.

PTUZ general secretary, Raymond Majongwe, who was also tortured, said the teachers were only demanding a salary raise and that they wanted the public to understand their plight.

“The campaign was well received in other parts of the country, but here in Harare, where Zanu PF militias are currently being trained on committing acts of violence in the build-up to the March 29 poll, decided to put into practice what they had been taught so far,” he said.

Police, who have been guarding the hospitalized teachers for the past two days, where nowhere to be found as they retreated after they decided not to lay any charges against the teachers.

The police have arrested two men for brutalizing the PTUZ members at the Zanu PF Provincial headquarters.

Meanwhile, the PTUZ has revealed that more than 8 000 Zimbabwean teachers quit their jobs since the beginning of the year, with many believed to have left the country to look for better paying jobs abroad.

The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which regularly monitors the number of teachers leaving the country last year said 25 000 teachers had quit the profession, said more teachers were expected to leave this year because of poor pay and working conditions.

The public education sector – once among the best in Africa and a shining example of the achievements of President Robert Mugabe’s government – has suffered the most.

School infrastructure is crumbling due to lack of maintenance as the government struggles for resources, while disruptive strikes by teachers for more pay have become routine.

The PTUZ, which is one of two unions representing teachers in the country, is currently leading a strike by its members since the beginning of the new term last month to press the government to hike salaries to Z$1.7 billion per month, which is a paltry US$85 per month at the widely used parallel market exchange rate of about Z$20 million to the greenback.

Zimbabwe employs about 120 000 teachers including student and untrained temporary teachers but the PTUZ says the country requires double that number of fully qualified teachers to ensure effective learning in schools. (The Zimbabwe Guardian)

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