zwnews.com Political Reporter- Simba Moyo
President Robert Mugabe has been warned to expect another shut Zimbabwe revolt soon, as teachers plan nationwide demonstrations should his government go ahead with its intention to close 40 schools in the Matabeleland South region.
In solidarity with its members and school children, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) says it will bring the country to a standstill in nationwide protests against this backward move.
ARTUZ says by just mooting the idea to close the schools, the government has shown how irresponsible it has become. The union’s boss Obert Masaraure says his organisation will soon visit the area in order to assess the situation on the ground, before engaging in industrial action as a way to force the government to respect the children’s rights to education.
“If the government continue with this bad idea, we will not fold our hands and watch, but, we will engage in industrial action put down our tools, engage in demonstrations, and bring the nation to a standstill.
“Education is a human right, it is irresponsible if the government take education as a profit making venture,” he says.
Masaraure says the major problem why most teachers are reluctant in working in those areas is because of underdevelopment, and that closing the schools is retrogressive and will render many teachers unemployed.
He believes the government should uphold its claims of being champions in forwarding the agenda of education, a feat that at one time saw the country being rated as boasting one of the most educated population.
His comments follow the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora’s statement last month, when his ministry announced that he was planning to close down 40 schools in Matabeleland South owing to dwindling enrollments and the reluctance by teachers to work in those areas.
The announcement also received the wrath of Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo who recently said he was surprised by the intended move of closing schools, at the time the country needed more of them.
Meanwhile, the same union recently called on all government employees and teachers in particular to engage on a go slow until their plight has been addressed, describing the year 2017 as a year to demand a share of the national cake for the education sector and for the poor.
Most teachers in rural areas work under deplorable conditions, where they fetch water from shallow wells dug on river beds, with no proper facilities like electricity, this, compounded by unpaid salaries and bonuses is a de-motivating factor to them and affect their dedication to duty.
The envisaged demonstrations would be for the second time, after the nation faced massive demonstrations in 2016 as citizens across the economic divide protested, against a host of governmental shortcomings including corruption, the falling economy, and mis-governance among others.
The demos were fronted by social movements like #Tajamuka and #ThisFlag, who have since also issued similar statements that this year, the protests will be even worse, describing the previous demonstrations as being a drop in the ocean.
For the past years, the government has been embroidered in disputes with its workers, particularly teachers regarding their bonuses, and unreliable pay dates. Last year, a number of teachers associations in the country mobilised their members to down tools over the same issues. As the nation struggles to pay its workers, teachers had been looked down upon, by being one of the last civil service sections to be paid.