1 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Unyielding Teachers Demand Mugabe Audience

THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has finally written to President Robert Mugabe requesting a meeting with him to register displeasure with current education minister Lazarus Dokora.

The teachers trade union group accuses Dokora of unilaterally introducing potentially destructive policies within the country's beleaguered education sector.

This follows reports that Dokora was planning on scrapping teachers' salaries in the months of April, August and December, the time schools would be closed. Dokora has since denied this was true.

Dokora is further accused of plans to shift schools sporting activities to weekends as well as to roll out CCTV camera installations in classrooms as a "spying" measure on teachers.

But the PTUZ insists they would put up a fight to resist the measures, even if this meant going it without the support of rival unions.

"Comrades we have officially written to the President as we suggested in one of our posts and you okayed it so we are not retreating on these issues and will soon share the contents of the letter with you," reads a recent post on the group's Facebook page.

PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said two weeks ago the militant teachers group would consider industrial action if President Mugabe refuses to meet them.

Their accusations against Dokora were rubbished by the rival Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), viewed sympathetic to government.

"We have noted that there are people who have different views to ours and are insulting us but this will not stop us from pushing for the correct decisions to be made in our sector," said PTUZ in apparent reference to Zimta.

"Yes they are entitled to their opinion but the position that we have taken has resulted in Hon Dokora being summoned to appear before parliament and senate to answer questions on the issues we have raised."

The trade union group has further demanded the removal of CCTV cameras from Harare's Girls High School classrooms which they insist was a pioneer project introduced at Dokora's instigation, which would be extended to other schools.

"Comrades we have paid a visit to Girls High in Harare and we saw the CCTVs in the classrooms we mentioned in one of our posts. We were made to understand that the whole project cost US$68 000 and we are saying is this the best way to use school resources and what value does this add to our education?" says PTUZ.

Based on CCTV, Majongwe told NewZimbabwe.com a fortnight ago, some teachers were now being summoned by the school heads and scolded for "failing to teach".

"If people think that headmasters can then spy on teachers and call people to say kuti this one cannot teach as what is happening paQueen Elizabeth, then we have a serious problem," he said.

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