Settlers start school in plantation

Settlers who invaded Border Timbers’ plantations in Chimanimani have hijacked one of the company’s workers compounds and converted it into an unregistered primary school.

One of the huts belonging to the invaders.
One of the huts belonging to the invaders.

Border Timbers officials, who declined to be named for fear of victimization, told The Zimbabwean that the school had been opened on its property called Westward Ho! It began operating in marched, with a staff of untrained and unqualified teachers.

“Westward Ho! Primary school is being manned by “O” level dropouts and some Border Gezi graduates. The pupils do not have writing or text and the school is not registered with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture,” said a company official.

Another source said the “teachers”, most of whom are known Zanu (PF) supporters, are not on the government payroll and are paid by settlers in the form of chickens, maize and sometimes traditional beer.

“We are worried about the situation at the school. There are no books or furniture. Only the local headman and the settlers are privy to what is happening at there,” said Peisayi Mabhoko, the MDC –T chairperson in the area.

Border Timbers’ vast plantations in the area have been turned into small pockets of maize and rapoko fields. The settlers have built mud and dagga huts and have planted crops on very steep land in the mountainous terrain. Environmentalists have warned how dangerous this is because soil just washes away when it rains.

The Chimanimani District Education officer, Frank Chigogwana, confirmed that Westward Ho! school was not registered with the ministry.

“We do not have that school on our records. We have 74 primary schools in the district and the school you are talking about is certainly not one of them,” he said.

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