Cops arrest teachers marching 275 km to Hre from Mutare; defiant union vows to continue protest

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By William Milasi

PROTESTING rural educators who are marching 275km from Mutare to Harare have vowed to continue marching despite a crackdown by the country’s security services.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) leadership said nine of the protestors were arrested in Macheke on Saturday.

The protestors are demanding that salaries be paid in US dollars as well as reinstatement of their bonuses.

ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure, who is also part of those arrested, told told that they would continue with the protest march.

“We are now in police custody at Macheke police station,” he said.

“Armed police officers blocked our march and arrested some of our protestors; 9 are in custody.

“The police are yet to prefer any charges against us. We will proceed with the march against all odds, some Cdes escaped and are safe.”

Those arrested included Masaraure, Robson Chere, Godfrey Chanda, Gerald Takawira, Christine Jubane, Takemore Mhlanga, Regai Chinhuto, Brenda Musavengana and Taurai Boora.

“The Dispol for Marondera District, Chief Superintendent Nenguwo has instructed oneAssistant Inspector Murombo to block our march for US$ salaries and bonus in full,” the union said in a statement.

“The Caravan was passing through a service station after Macheke towards Harare. The Dispol claims that we are not cleared under the draconian Public Order andSecurity Act, (POSA).

“His claims are baseless since trade unions, just like churches and funerals, are exempted from POSA.”

The militant union said it had notified the police of the march.

Union Secretary General Robson Chere said the union “had notified all State departments of the march in the vain hope that the State would provide Security for our members.

“The Head of police for Mashonaland East Province stamped our notification in acknowledgment.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is offering support to the incarcerated educators.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in Macheke have arrested leaders and members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe while marching from Mutare toHarare over poor remuneration and working conditions for teachers in Zimbabwe.

“ZLHR has deployed lawyers to offer emergency legal support services and ZRP has not yet preferred charged against the protesting teachers who are detained at Marondera Central Police Station,” ZLHR said in a statement.

In 2016, union leaders walked 200km from Mutawatawa in Maramba Pfungwe to Harare demanding an improvement in working conditions.