Teachers take demos to PM, Mugabe’s offices

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    PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou told ZimOnline that they felt Mugabe, a former teacher, would understand their grievances more than any other person in government but they would have to approach the PM before staging demonstrations at the veteran leader’s offices.

    Zhou said about 200 teachers demonstrated in Harare on Monday under police escort.

    “We went to the Public Service Commission but because they had already heard that we were coming they all disappeared leaving only secretaries manning offices,” said Zhou, adding that the protesting teachers were insulted by the secretaries.

    “They asked us why we behaved as if we were the only one in need of money.”

    The PTUZ leader said: “We have discovered that Mukonoweshuro has renounced his responsibility and is not prepared to entertain us. So we have resolved that demonstrations will now target the President and the Prime Minister’s offices. We will start with the PM’s office. If nothing is done we will go to the President’s office, one of the first successful teachers in Zimbabwe.”

    Teachers have been battling to get the government to review their current earnings from the US$100 monthly allowance that government pays all its workers to US$454, embarking on a Friday class boycott and threatening to intensify the action if government fails to address their concerns.

    Last week, the PTUZ staged demonstrations in several cities but were blocked by the police in Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe and Chinhoyi, where they filed High Court petitions to have the police action declared null and void.

    The courts were still looking at the applications, according to Zhou.

    “We have filed High Court orders in these towns because police prevented teachers from demonstrating, even after initially approving our applications. There was a 75 percent success, 75 percent school closures were registered in these areas. In Harare we will be demonstrating next week,” the PTUZ president claimed.

    He said 150 PTUZ members had downed chalks in Masvingo, 130 had not gone to work in Bulawayo, 145 teachers were participating in the demonstrations in Chinhoyi and 85 teachers had gathered for the demonstrations in Kwekwe before police said they could not go ahead.

    Demonstrations could not take place in Harare because the PTUZ felt there were so many programmes going on at the time, including preparations for the constitutional conference.

    Education Minister David Coltart told ZimOnline last week he had received reports of the demonstrations in Bulawayo but he had not heard of any reports in other parts of the country.

    Coltart has in the past met teachers’ union leaders to urge them to be patient as the government tries to mobilise resources from donors to improve salaries and working conditions.

    On Monday last week the largest union representing teachers in the country, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA), threatened to go on strike if they did not get a pay rise by month-end.

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