The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has petitioned the government seeking the closure of schools next week so that teachers are spared political victimisation by ZANU PF activists.

In letter, addressed to Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Thumisang Thabela and dated 12 July 2023, was signed by Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere the labour union said it has received 567 cases of distress from its members countrywide since President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed the elections.

The union proposed that schools close on 18 July 2023, so that teachers are spared the abuse.

Part of the letter reads: “The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Artuz, wishes to advise your good office that our members have proposed an early closing date on 18 July 2023.

“The proposal has been necessitated by escalating political conflict ahead of the 23 August 2023. The conflict has also spilled into schools as politicians tussle for political power.”

ARTUZ singled out two cases which it said are part of the 567.

“Find below two sample reports from members . . . On Tuesday 4 July all Chidoma Primary School learners were ordered by one head Assa Moyo to go back home at exactly 0830hrs because there was a Zanu PF rally at Chidoma dip tank.

“The grade 7 classroom was used as the caucus room for Zanu PF officials. ECD A classroom was used as the kitchen. At the rally Zanu PF midlands vice-chairman, one Chiherenge, ordered all school heads that no school learner must pay fees until voting day. All teachers were ordered to go to the rally. We couldn’t take videos for fear of victimisation as teachers,” reads the letter.