By Staff Reporter
POLICE in Harare Tuesday pounced and arrested leaders of the militant Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) as they were about to complete their brave 275km protest march to demand the payment of their wages in US dollars.
The nine, who are also demanding the full payment of the 2018 bonuses by government, have coined their protest, the Caravan March.
According to the teachers union, some 25 police officers pounced on the group at Ruwa Country Club, ordered them onto a truck and drove them to Harare central police Tuesday evening where they were later detained under the country’s tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
The defiant unionists were on Saturday arrested in Macheke and charged for Criminal Nuisance by Marondera police who accused them of embarking on a march that was not sanctioned under the country’s tough security laws.
Prosecutors in the small Mashonaland East capital refused to have the matter set down for trial arguing that the state’s case was too weak to warrant a full court hearing.
Even after the courts had vindicated their position, police continued to block and interfered with their march.
The protesting unionists are Obert Masaraure, Robson Chere, Godfrey Chanda, Gerald Tawengwa, Christine Jubane, Gaudencia Mandiopera, Brenda Musavengana, Takemore Mhlanga, Memory Phiri, Munyaradzi Masiiwa, Sokuluhle Ndlovu, Regai Chinhuto, Reggis Muzambi and Taurai Boora.
In a solidarity message Tuesday, the Zimbabwe National Students Union said it “outrightly condemns the arrest of ARTUZ leaders for the second time”.
“Their demands are genuine especially being raised to a government that has stolen millions that it never toiled to earn. This is now a struggle to bring back the poor man’s food on the table and thus we have no option but to organize and fight,” said the students group.
“The students’ struggles are not divorced from the teachers’ struggles being united by an umbilical cord of a quest for academic freedom.
“We demand the immediate release of ARTUZ leaders and call on the government to respect the people’s right to demonstrate as enshrined in the constitution under section 59.”