Zim teachers become political targets
Zimbabwe's education system is suffering as teachers are being humiliated
and scared off their jobs by militant supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF.
SUSAN NJANJI reports
EACHERS, the most highly regarded members of rural communities in
Zimbabwe, are being humiliated and scared off their jobs by militant
supporters of President Robert Mugabe, who accuse them of backing the
opposition in the run-up to June 24 and 25 elections.
Schools are closing throughout the country, and teachers are fleeing. The teachers
are targets for politicians -- both opposition and governing.
At the start of the year, the new opposition Movement for Democratic Change
targeted them for its outreach programme -- "for obvious reasons," as one MDC
"They are very influential people in society, so it was wise to target them," he said.
Less than six months later they became targets of a different sort for militants of
the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), among
them veterans of the war which led to Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in
1980, who accused the teachers of indoctrinating students with opposition
Classes have been disrupted by veterans summoning all students and teachers for
political "re-education" sessions.
Many teachers have been brutally beaten, humiliated in front of their students for
their political affiliation. They say they had no choice but to abandon their schools
to seek refuge elsewhere.
Leonard Nkala, the head of ther Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), said
it was difficult to track down any of the teachers who have fled because they fear
being followed and would rather not let it be known where they are staying.
Other teachers are seeking transfers.
Local media reports estimate that 7 000 teachers have fled and that learning has
been disrupted in at least 250 of the slightly more than 6 000 schools across the
country since the second school term started on May 9.
Without giving figures, Nkala said some
schools had actually never opened this
term due to security concerns.
The government also plans to close
schools for five days starting June 22 to
allow students and teachers to cast their
ballots and to provide space for polling
Schools have traditionally been used as
polling stations while teachers have
been hired as polling officers.
One teacher whose school was
targeted to weed out opposition
supporters in the central Midlands
province weeks ago said teachers took
precautionary measures when they
heard war veterans were approaching
and "bought their security" - a Zanu-PF
"Our school head advised us to cover ourselves, so we all bought Zanu-PF
membership cards," he said.
"I even went further and acquired a T-shirt and if there is a rally I go, and if they
say 'dance' I will dance. I am doing it just for my security," he said, prefering not
to be named for fear of reprisals.
Another said she spent nights huddled in one room with her family waiting to be
In the politically volatile southern town of Mberengwa, at least seven schools
were closed this week after government supporters launched a fresh campaign.
Nkala said "Certainly the environment is not conducive to learning. Teachers are
reluctant to go back to their posts, students are scared for their security and even
parents are worried for their children," he said.
The education ministry has said it is doing its best to "normalise" the situation
without becoming part of the problem.
Hospitals and clinics which have attended to the victims of political violence --
people working for white farmers are also regularly beaten -- have also been
been forced to close in some areas.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has condemned the attacks as
"unwarranted, barbaric and nefarious" and blame them on the government.
"Top government officials have publicly attacked and condemned teachers in the
media. This has directly led to violence against teachers in the form of physical
attacks in schools, rapes, destruction of teachers' property and closure of
schools," the union said.
The death toll from the pre-voting violence in Zimbabwe is nearing 30 with
hundreds others injured.
International observers, who have declared that conditions for free and fair
elections do not exist in Zimbabwe, have been accused of bias by government
Mugabe prepares to axe white judges
In an escalation of antagonism against Zimbabwe's white minority, President
Mugabe's government has launched an attack on white judges.
By ANDREW MELDRUM in Harare
RESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government stepped up its attack on
Zimbabwe's white minority yesterday by launching an assault on senior
judges of British descent.
In a series of comments in the state-run media, the government accused judges
sitting in the supreme and high courts of being ill-qualified to pass judgment in
politically sensitive cases, on the grounds that legally, they were not citizens of
Several high court judges, black and white, are planning to make a public protest
today against the claims. There are fears that the accusations will be followed by
a direct attempt to have white judges removed from the bench.
The escalation of antagonism against the white minority signals an attempt to
weaken the position of Zimbabwe's judiciary, widely seen as one of the last
bastions of independence in the country. The courts have made several rulings
against the Mugabe government.
Two of the five supreme court judges are white, including the chief justice,
Anthony Gubbay. Four of the 20 high court judges are also white.
The accusations against the white judges were made by Jonathan Moyo, a
government spokesman and the architect of the campaign by Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party in the general election on June 24 and 25.
"No sane Zimbabwean should expect
the judiciary to be headed by a
foreigner - especially a British - 20
years after our independence, just like it
would be insane to have a foreign or
British president or speaker of
parliament," he said in the state-owned
Sunday Mail newspaper.
Moyo claimed that Gubbay had not
renounced his claim to British
citizenship properly, and therefore was
not a Zimbabwean citizen.
He also reiterated the government's
new policy, introduced two weeks ago,
that all Zimbabweans of British descent
should have renounced their claims to
British citizenship, under both
Zimbabwean and British law, by
December 1985. Those who did not
have been stripped of their
"Among those who allegedly did not
comply is chief justice Gubbay," Moyo
said. "Justice Gubbay and his affected colleagues face serious questions about the
legal and political legitimacy of their positions as judges."
Similar accusations were levelled in radio and television news bulletins from the
state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). The allegations were
also made in the weekly Mirror newspaper, whose publisher and editor is a
member of Zanu-PF.
The citizenship office has stated that an estimated 86 000 people are no longer
Zimbabwean citizens - this means that they are no longer eligible to vote.
The government has also issued a new policy stating that permanent residents are
not eligible to vote, despite clauses in the constitution which say clearly that they
do have that right.
A high court judge, Michael Gillespy, yesterday refuted the government's
allegations that he was not a Zimbabwean citizen.
"I am a citizen of Zimbabwe and I have never had any other citizenship," he said,
adding that he was "contemplating instructing attorneys to take legal action against
those making these statements".
Britain's shadow foreign secretary, Francis Maude, who made a 36-hour visit to
Zimbabwe at the weekend, called on the Commonwealth to increase the number
of its observers at the forthcoming elections from the current 44 to 300 to 500. "It
is essential that observers should stay for at least two or three weeks after the
election, to reduce the chance of violent retribution," he added.
Maude was responding to widespread reports that government officials are
threatening to beat and even kill rural Zimbabweans if they vote for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. Twenty-eight opposition supporters have
been killed since April 1.
"It is absolutely clear that what is going on is a deliberate policy of state terrorism
which derives directly from the head of state," Maude said. "From what I've
heard and seen it is very hard to see how this can be an open and fair election.
There has been gerrymandering, rigging of electoral rolls and widespread
Zim govt says whites
are creating chaos
HUGH NEVILL, Harare | Monday 1.45pm.
THE government in racially-divided Zimbabwe has accused
white-managed companies of closing down part of their
businesses to intentially create economic chaos ahead of
parliamentary elections later this month.
Deputy Industry and Commerce Minister Obert Mpofu told
the state-run Ziana news agency his ministry was compiling a
list of such companies.
He charged that some managers were reportedly sending
workers on forced unpaid leave and telling them that if they
voted for the opposition they would get their jobs back, but
would be fired if they voted for President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front.
"We have received a lot of reports," Mpofu said. "We are
taking stock and compiling the names. When we come back
into power we will not hesitate to help workers to buy those
The business community has said companies were being forced
to cut back production because they cannot obtain enough
foreign currency to operate.
The tourism industry has said it, in turn, has had to lay off a
significant number of staff because tourism has come to a
virtual halt as a result of political violence here.
The critical shortage of foreign currency has led to erratic fuel
supplies, leading to long queues at petrol stations.
Meanwhile, the occupation of some 1 500 white-owned
commercial farms by squatters led by independence war
veterans has disrupted agricultural exports, along with low
Mpofu insisted however that the timing of the "rampant"
closures could not be just a coincidence. --AFP
Violence Orgy Continues
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, June 4, 2000) - The President of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, has called on the ruling
Zanu PF government to bring to an end the escalating political violence currently
sweeping across the country's provinces ahead of parliamentary elections
scheduled for 24 and 25 June.
Tsvangirai said he was deeply concerned with the on-going violent attacks on
members of the opposition parties, and that some of the opposition candidates
for this month's parliamentary elections were also being attacked and
The MDC boss said destruction of property, which included houses and
vehicles, was escalating in the 95 constituencies which his party had fielded
candidates. The MDC is contesting in the 120 constituencies, according to list of
MDC parliamentary candidates released late yesterday.
Tsvangirai said the hot areas were in the Midlands province and the Eastern
Highlands which had "become key flashpoints as election tensions" heat up. "I
regret that my prophecies of increased intimidation and violent attacks against
candidates and opposition supporters are proving to be true. I call on all
(people) committed to peace to ensure these cowardly attacks end," said
Tsvangirai. The trade unionist-turned politician, who travelled to Mutare
nomination court yesterday, was quite upbeat about his party's victory despite
political violence perpetrated on its supporters.
The MDC media centre issued a statement last night highlighting some of the
violent crusades made against its members throughout the country. MDC
candidate for Makoni North, Valentine Ziswa, who is fighting Zanu PF stalwart,
Didymus Mutasa, for a parliamentary seat, said there were increased threats and
violence against him and his family.
He claimed on Friday that more than 300 Zanu PF members came to his farm
last weekend in tractors and lorries and threatened him. The Zanu PF militants
are said to have told Ziswa that they were coming this weekend to take his farm
and kill him if he resisted.
Efforts to establish from Ziswa himself whether the militants had fulfilled their
promise were fruitless at the time of going to press. But information reaching this
office claim that beatings and torching of houses had dramatically increased as
election dates draw close.
Five people believed to be MDC supporters were beaten badly in Nyanga and
Headlands, and had to be hospitalised. In one of the incidents, according to
information reaching this desk, one homestead was petrol-bombed.
An eight-year-old girl who was trying to escape, was allegedly beaten by
attackers. The girl's father was also beaten and hospitalised.
Political violence took its toll this week in the eastern Highlands where 18 houses
were reduced to rubbles. In the violent crusade against MDC members, a
20-year-old woman, Sekai Mandeya, was beaten up by people believed to be
Zanu PF supporters.
She had to be treated for the injuries she sustained. Another MDC candidate for
Mutasa constituency, Eve Masaiti, was forced to flee for her life as the violent
attacks on MDC supporters spread in the Honde Valley.
Masaiti said yesterday although her nomination went through, the major problem
was that of providing shelter to more 50 people who were now homeless. She
said in a telephone interview last night that the homeless people were staying at a
house belonging to one senior MDC official.
In another development, a Harare young man who travelled to Murehwa last
week to attend a funeral of a relative was interrogated by Zanu PF youths who
are believed to be manning roadblocks in the area. The Harare man, whom we
can not identify by name for security reasons, was manhandled at Juru growth
point by a group of Zanu PF youths.
The youths wanted to read what was written on the back of his Tee-shirt. He
refused, and during the skirmishes, managed to outsprint the disgruntled mob
and got into the car they were travelling in, and sped off.
On arrival in the hamlet of Karimbika, tucked deep in the UMP communal area,
the young man and his relatives were again harassed at the funeral by Zanu PF
people who demanded to know which political party they supported. They were
saved by an ex-combatant who was at the funeral.
Passengers travelling to Karimbika are subjected to interrogation by Zanu PF
supporters, and sometimes the passengers are forced to chant Zanu PF slogans
before the bus is allowed to proceed.
"It is a reminder of what used to happen during the liberation war. I don't think I
will go there again. Its risky," said the Harare man.
A staffer at this paper was harassed on Friday night by a group of Zanu PF
members who wanted to know which party he supported. About five people
searched his pockets, and asked him to remove his shoes.
The Zanu PF members also forcibly removed The Standard staffer's jacket since
they wanted to see whether he was putting on a Tee-shirt.
"I was delayed for about 20 minutes. They told me that I should attend Zanu PF
meetings before they allowed me to go home," he said. Sekai Holland's
campaign manager had his vehicle damaged by Zanu PF supporters in the
President Robert Mugabe has not condemned political violence since it erupted
in February following the rejection of the government-sponsored draft
constitution. There are growing fears that elections scheduled for this month will
be marred by political violence.
Fuel Shortage Persists in Zimbabwe
HARARE (June 4) XINHUA - Fuel shortage in Zimbabwe has become critical
with almost no petrol supplies in Harare while a few service stations sold only
diesel on Sunday.
Desperate motorists queued at empty service stations with waning hope and
attendants, whose continued employment remains uncertain, sat around with
nothing to do.
One service station in Eastlea has had no supplies for the past week and staff
were not sure when the next delivery would be.
Fuel shortage in the country began last year in December following the cutting of
credit lines to the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) over a 250
million U.S. dollars debt.
Things seemed to improve somewhat from April after President Robert Mugabe
led efforts to secure reliable sources of fuel from the Middle East, but the bad
situation has returned.
Winding queues for petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin have become a
common sight again in most parts of the country's urban centres as supplies have
The origins of Zimbabwe's fuel crisis has been blamed on rampant corruption at
Noczim where fuel was procured at unjustifiably exorbitant prices after tender
procedures were disregarded.
Several officials of Noczim and the Transport and Energy Ministry have been
arrested and are being investigated in connection with corruption at the national
oil procuring company.
Former Transport and Energy Minister Enos Chikowore has since resigned after
Members of Parliament called for his head together with that of Finance Minister
Hebert Murerwa, who is still in office.