By Darlington Gatsi
GOVERNMENT has drawn criticism for endorsing the planned launch of the so-called Teachers for Economic Development group scheduled for today, with unions and the opposition saying the event is needless disruptive of ongoing examinations.
Teachers for economic development will be launched in Harare with more than 5,000 teachers drawn from across the country expected to attend.
Education ministry permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela on Monday directed the release of teachers to attend the launch with schools in Harare housing attendees coming from out of outside the capital.
The launch coincides with O’ level and A’ level examinations that commenced Monday, drawing the ire of teachers who believe the launch may be a stumbling block to the national examinations.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said the timing of the launch raises eyebrows.
“The meeting on its own is highly disruptive in the context of examinations,” said Masaraure.
“Teachers should be in schools preparing for examinations some should be invigilating so that our exams run smoothly.
“It shows that our government officials are completely disregarding social services.”
President of Young Teachers Union Takemore Mhlanga added; “We are against the launch of the teachers for economic development because it is being done in a manner that is forcing teachers to attend. Teachers should not be forced to attend they should attend willingly.”
The event has also called consternation the education sector amid reports that teachers were being coerced into being a member of the association.
Civil society organisations and the opposition also condemned what they described as the politicisation of education in the country.
Said opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Fadzai Mahere.
🟡As teachers are roped into a partisan political campaign, what becomes of the students who are deprived of learning time? Why can’t this be done outside learning hours? Is this Zanu PF’s idea of “Economic Development”?
We need new leaders.🇿🇼 pic.twitter.com/lbpfGbzOu3
— Fadzayi Mahere🇿🇼 (@advocatemahere) October 18, 2022
The Zimbabwe Peace Project added;
The payment is towards transport costs for the Teachers for ED launch. ZPP condemns the politicisation of the education system which is already facing challenges @ARTUZ_teachers @InfoMinZW @ZANUPF_Official @HStvNews @NewsHawksLive @ZimHRNGOForum @ZctuZimbabwe @amnesty_zim
— The Zimbabwe Peace Project (@zppINFO) October 17, 2022
Meanwhile, the development comes after the launch last week of Health Ambassadors for Economic Development, with similar associations also having been established in other sectors.
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Former Zanu PF activist Jim Kunaka claimed in July that Mnangagwa was establishing the ForED parallel structures to help campaign for the 2023 elections because he could no longer count on the support of the ruling Zanu PF party.
“He (Mnangagwa) has already created parallel structures – Varakashi, Young Women for ED, Men BelievED … Those are now people who are loyal to him and not the organisation itself,” said Kunaka.
The charge was however dismissed by the ruling party with youth league official Phineas Makombe saying; “The spurious claims, therefore, that His Excellency is forming parallel structures detached from the Party show a clear lack of knowledge of the Party’s constitution,” he said.
“For the avoidance of doubt all these affiliates after forming themselves and approaching the party to become affiliate members and work with the party.
“In these instances Young Women for ED, man believe ED etc. are working with the Party to campaign for the party’s sole (2023 elections) candidate Comrade Dr ED Mnangagwa.”