Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Few teachers report for duty
MUTARE - Schools re-opened in Zimbabwe for the second term calendar with very few teachers reporting for duty.
In the urban centers most teachers refused to report for duty saying they were working for nothing. The lowest paid teacher earn as little as ZW$2 billion (US$20) a month.
At Mutare Girls' High School, an elite all girls' school, pupils were loitering in the school yard.
"Teachers are not there," said one Form Three pupil. "We are not doing anything at all."
One teacher from Dangamvura High School in Dangamvura high density suburb in Mutare said until they have been awarded a reasonable salary increase then they will go to work.
"Personally I will not go to work until I am given a better salary," a Form Four teacher said.
Reasons given by teachers in the urban centers were different from those from the rural areas who didn’t report for duty fearing for their lives.
Teachers working in the rural areas are blamed by Zanu PF and its leadership for the popular support the opposition got in those areas.
Most teachers were engaged by the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) which is largely blamed for President Mugabe's poor showing in his traditional strongholds in the countryside.
Several teachers fled their stations soon after the government embarked on a wave of arrests of ZEC officials accusing them of "stealing" votes from President Mugabe.
An official from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said almost the entire teaching force in the rural areas have not reported for duty.
Those that were not engaged by ZEC are equally culpable because they are accused of campaigning for the opposition in their respective areas. Teachers are generally respected in the communities they work from in the rural areas.
"About 9000 teachers who are based in the rural areas are afraid of reporting to duty," said a PTUZ official based in this eastern border city. "They fear that they may be attacked because they sided with the opposition."
There are about 14 000 teachers in Manicaland Province.
The opening of schools also coincides with the setting up of bases by Zanu PF activists, army officers and other security agents in areas where President Mugabe performed dismally.
One such base at the Odzi Country Club, about 30 km north of Mutare, was on Monday burnt by angry villagers. Several ruling party activists were operating from there - hunting down MDC supporters and rounding them up at the base where they were beaten up and tortured.
Odzi Country Club is a community social centre where farmers used to patronise for alcoholic beverages, sporting activities and family gatherings such as parties and weddings. But it has now been converted into a base by ruling party militants.
Politically motivated violence is also escalating in the province with reports that MDC supporters were now retaliating and beating up ruling party activists and burning their houses. Such incidents were reported in Mayo in Headlands, 70km north of Mutare. In Sakubva high density suburb in Mutare supporters of both the MDC and Zanu PF were engaged in running battles amid reports two houses had been razed down. Police confirmed the incident saying investigations were in progress