6 October 2013

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF After Teachers With Links to MDC-T

Masvingo — Two months after President Robert Mugabe's landslide win, Zanu PF youths and war veterans here have started a witch-hunt, haunting teachers perceived to be sympathetic to the MDC-T and ordering their transfer from Masvingo West constituency.

Last week, a petition that was set to be handed to the Ministry of Education was circulated in and around Masvingo town, where people were urged to sign, denouncing about 13 teachers at different schools.

The petition to "flush out" teachers perceived to be sympathetic to MDC-T, came as the country celebrated World Teachers' Day yesterday, recognising the importance of teachers to students, parents, communities and governments.

"We were given a paper to sign where there are the names of some teachers. Some of the parents were forced to sign," said one villager. "Our signatures are set to be used against the teachers at the Ministry of Education."

Teachers targeted include Joseph Muchemedzi, the head at Mudavanhu Secondary School, Jim Chigodora, the head at Mudenge Primary School, as well as Jonny Charumbira, Chikusvura Philip, Fadzai Jaravaza and Venice Chivese, all from Nemazuwa Primary School.

Other teachers identified in the petitions are Edward Mumudzana (Mudenge Primary School), one Muguta and one Zvekare, both from Charumbira Primary School, and Nyunguma Mandava, the head at Gwengavi Primary School.

The other names of the teachers targeted could not be obtained by the time of going to print, but sources said there were many more. Losing MDC-T MP for the area, Takanayi Mureyi said some of the victimised teachers had approached him for help.

"It is true and some of the teachers alerted me of the petition," said Mureyi. "I believe the transfer of teachers should be the role of the ministry, not politicians."

But Zanu PF provincial chairman, Lovemore Matuke dismissed the reports as a mere publicity stunt by the teachers.

"I do not think there is anything of that sort happening in Masvingo," he said. "I think the teachers are just looking for cheap publicity, so that they can get transferred from schools which they do not like. They can fabricate for that matter."

But the teachers last week insisted that they were being victimised.

"It is true that there were meetings in the area where parents were mobilised to sign the anti-MDC-T teachers' petition," said one of the teachers. "But we are very clean and this is just a ploy to target teachers who were not involved in Zanu PF politics. We are very apolitical and were never active for any party -- Zanu PF included, and that is our crime."

Acting Masvingo provincial education director, Fadzai Jirivengwa professed ignorance over the petition.

"I am hearing it from you, maybe I will know of it when it comes to my office," she said.

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