Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has given the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) a 14-day ultimatum to issue a policy circular barring political parties from fundraising in schools.
The move by the union came as a result of escalating abuse of teachers working in rural schools as they are being coerced to fund ZANU PF political rallies by various ZANU PF structures. In most rural areas, letters are generated supposedly ‘appealing’ for donations and are set to schools for teachers to part with their hard earned and meager salaries to fund ZANU PF political processes such as the recent nationwide Youth Interface rallies.
Ironically, those teachers who are unable to contribute anything are persecuted and accused of being opposition supporters. To exacerbate their situation, they receive no protection from the MoPSE higher offices which are often complicit to this day light robbery as district education inspectors are the ones often sending these letters to schools emblazoned with their official stamps.
In its letter dated 13 November 2017, the union is requesting MoPSE, as the responsible authority of policy in schools, to issue a circular barring all forms of political fundraising in public schools.
ARTUZ is citing various provisions of the constitution namely section 58 (2), 194(1) and 200(3). Section 58(2) provides that no person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering. By coercing payments from teachers, ZANU PF is in violation of this provision.
Further, section 194(1) sets out various principles of public administration and leadership which demand high standards of professional ethics. It is apparent that by using education inspectors to demand payment from teachers, ZANU PF is in violation of this critical provision.
More importantly, teachers as civil service members are required by section 200(3) not to further the interest of any political party. By being forced to donate to ZANU PF, teachers will be evidently furthering the interest of a political party against their will.
As evidence, ARTUZ attached a letter dated 3 September 2017 by Guruve District Administrator, one R. Shangwa which was calling all teachers in Guruve district to contribute $1.00 towards ZANU PF Youth Interface rallies. The letter also had the signature and stamp of the district education inspector.
The union gave MoPSE two weeks to issue the circular failure of which will leave the union with no choice but to pursue the legal route. The letter has also been copied to parliament and the Civil Service Commission.
This action by the union is part of its ongoing safe schools campaign which is aimed at ensuring that schools remain conducive for learning and teaching before during and after the 2018 elections.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)