By Anna Chibamu
VOCAL Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe’s (PTUZ) Raymond Majongwe has been re-elected uncontested as the group’s secretary general, a position he will now hold for over 20 years.
The president of PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou was also re-elected unopposed at the teachers’ union national congress held in Harare at the weekend. Both trade unionists were once fierce critics of the late Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Zhou, who is also an aggressive trade unionist, is a former lecturer at Great Zimbabwe University.
The militant PTUZ is a trade union representing 15 000 teachers, lecturers in State and private schools. It was formed in 1997.
Majongwe’s re-election will see him holding the position of the secretary general for over 22 years. The burly trade unionist, protest music chanter, was once Dynamos Football Club secretary general.
At its formation in 1997, the PTUZ faced numerous challenges as government refused to formally recognise it until 2003 when it repealed the Education Act.
The banning saw Majongwe and other union leaders being constantly harassed or arrested on several occasions by police over their hawkish approach on issues concerning the rights of teachers.
Other members of the new PTUZ executive are; Deputy President Nokuthula Hlabangana; national treasurer, Ladistous Zunde; Connie Mavugara, secretary for culture; secretary for international relations Eberth Mashakada; secretary for women empowerment, Nyaradzo Munjodzi; secretary for health, Numeri Gwazeni; Peter Machenjera secretary for information and publicity, as well as Lovejoy Sibanda who is secretary for young workers.
The PTUZ at one point got cosy with the government of the day and in December 2018, Majongwe had a closed door meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“It was a rare opportunity, the first of its kind, he (Mnangagwa) acknowledged that we had written letters and the president promised to respond formally,” Majongwe said after meeting Mnangagwa then.
However, that relationship seemed to have turned sour due to continued economic challenges, which have seen salaries of teachers and other ordinary workers eroding every month.
In resolutions passed at the congress, the PTUZ leadership was mandated to ally the organisation with “other teacher trade unions, which subscribe to the solution of the trials and tribulations of the suffering Zimbabwean teachers.”
“The PTUZ will take all appropriate steps to establish an Ideological College with a view of instilling the core values and principles of the union in its members. Congress resolved to invest in coming up with a union medical and bereavement scheme.
“Discipline in schools must be enhanced. There is need to create discourse. Union must venture into projects for the empowerment of the union as an organisation and members,” the resolutions read.
The PTUZ also said it would engage President Mnangagwa for him to own up on his promises regarding the welfare of disabled teachers