ZIMTA warns govt against intimidation of striking teachers

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has warned government against intimidating educators who are on strike and vowed to continue the job action until their demands are met.

Unions called a strike Tuesday demanding that government to pays salaries in US dollars as well as an improvement in working conditions.

According to ZIMTA, the country’s largest teachers’ union, participation on the first day the strike was 75 percent in rural areas and 60 percent in urban areas.

When moved around Harare neighbourhoods such as Mbare, school children from institutions like Ardbennie Primary School had already been dismissed as early as 9 am.

Some teachers who turned up for duty said they were afraid of being fired by the government.

“You may recall that, at one point, nurses were fired and recently government attempted to sack all doctors had it not been of their unity. So, we have no choice except to turn up for duty,” said one teacher at a school in Harare on condition of anonymity.

Contacted for comment on the teachers fears, ZIMTA president Richard Gundani warned authorities against intimidation and victimisation.

“We are aware of the face that government has been registering unemployed teachers, but our members must not be intimidated by such moves because we actually called for it,” he said.

“However, if that happens then we will be left with no choice except to respond accordingly.”

Government has since blamed the opposition MDC-Alliance for working in cahoots with unionists “to overthrow a constitutionally elected government”.

A nationwide stay-at-home strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last month turned violent with shops looted and torched around the country.

The government responded with lethal force resulting 12 people being killed whole dozens suffered gunshot wounds.

More than 1,000 people were also arrested amid reports of rape and other horrific abuses by soldiers deployed by the government supposedly to round-up those claimed to be responsible for the violence.