School children and teachers force-marched to ZANU PF rallies

Primary school children and their teachers are still being forced to attend pro-ZANU PF political rallies in Masvingo and the Midlands, the president of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has said.

For the past months, the notorious pro-ZANU PF war veteran Jabulani Sibanda is reported to have been carrying out a reign of terror in Masvingo. In September the MDC said he disrupted classes at Nhema Primary School when he ordered teachers and school children to his rally before proceeding to Fuve Business Centre in Zaka, Masvingo province. There he allegedly threatened hundreds of villagers with violence if they stayed away from his meetings in the area.

On Tuesday Takavafira Zhou PTUZ president said: The teachers are forced to abandon their work to attend a political rally, that is not proper. Teachers have become targets of political violence, it is unfortunate. A war vet known as Jabulani Sibanda is well known for writing letters to several schools in Zhaka, Masvingo, Bikita, ordering teachers to close their schools and attend political rallies. This is very unfortunate taking into consideration what happened in terms of political violence to teachers.

School children lose their learning time and they are also called to attend the political rallies and they lose the value for learning, and it is not a proper environment to learn. When they arrange meetings, they call anyone, even from those who are in primary school as well as those at secondary school. There are cases where the crowd is so low, so they want to boost the crowd by the number of school pupils, they are then forced to attend, he added. Zhou also said it was no use reporting the matter to the police, adding that despite discussing this problem with the Minister of Education nine months ago no action had been taken against the perpetrators.

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