In August 2017, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) approached the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and filed a complaint against the then First Secretary of ZANU PF, Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe (then women’s league secretary). The case against the duo was that they had become notorious at abusing the rights of pupils and teachers especially those working in rural areas.
The specific facts of the abuse was that school children were being forced to attend political rallies which flies in the face of Section 86(h) of the constitution of Zimbabwe. This section of the constitution provides for rights of the children and guarantees that they shall not be compelled to be part of any political gathering.
Further, during these Zanu PF rallies, schools were forced to suspend learning which against the spirit and letter of Section 75 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, which provides for the right to education. School properties, especially buses were also abused with impunity as they were used to ferry party supporters to the rallies.
This action was part of the union’s ongoing safe schools campaign which is aimed at ensuring that schools operate in a safe environment before, during and after the 2018 elections.
It therefore with uttermost disgust that ARTUZ condemns the continuation of the abuse of children during political rallies. The so called new dispensation came with promises to uphold human rights but it is clearly failing to do so.
On 7 February 2018, at a rally at Siyalima Primary School in Mashonaland Central, several schools in Mbire, Madziwa, Guruve and Muzarabani districts suspended learning as teachers and school children were forced to attend a Zanu PF rally where Zanu PF President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed. This continuation of Mugabe tactics is fast proving this government to be sides of the same coin with the former regime.
ARTUZ holds that elections can never be free, fair and credible if rights of the most vulnerable are not being upheld.
We therefore call on President Mnangagwa to immediately issue a public statement that his government will stop forthwith the flagrant disregard of the rights of children set out in Section 86(h). Such a statement from the highest office will ensure that the illegal practice currently happening is stopped forthwith.
ARTUZ will continue to monitor and report on the situation in schools as the election season gathers momentum in line with our Safe Schools Campaign.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)