Rural teachers under siege ahead of by-elections

Teachers in Hurungwe West are under siege from Zanu (PF) activists ahead of the by-election slated for June 10.

Temba Mliswa
Temba Mliswa

There has been increasing reports victimisation of supporters of former Member of Parliament for the constituency, Temba Mliswa, who will battle it out with Zanu (PF’s) Keith Guzah. Mliswa was expelled from the ruling party last year for undermining its leadership and will contest the by-election as an independent candidate.

Zanu (PF), in a bid to snatch the Hurungwe West seat, has launched an onslaught against opposition supporters in the area. Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) President, Obert Masaraure, said in a recent interview that teachers suspected of being loyal to Mliswa were being targeted.

“We have received several reports of victimisation of teachers in Hurungwe West as well as Hwedza and Highlands,” said Masaraure. “In Hurungwe West, teachers who are suspected to be supporting Mliswa are being threatened that they should reform or face the consequences. We have a case of one teacher who was visited at night by known Zanu (PF) supporters. He was told that as long as he supported Mliswa, he was not fit to stay in the area.”

Masaraure said other teachers were being forced to register to vote. “They are being told that once they have registered, they should ensure that they vote for Zanu (PF). It is worrying that in many cases, teachers are accused of supporting opposition parties. This compromises their security during election time,” he added.

He also expressed concern at the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s (ZRP) inaction over the intimidation of teachers. “We have made reports to the police, especially in Hurungwe West, but there has been no action by them. In some cases, the teachers are being told to bring the people who threatened them – which obviously complicates the situation. As a result, the teachers end up losing confidence in the police force and choose to suffer in silence,” he said.

For many years now the ZRP has been accused by opposition parties in the country of operating in a partisan manner in violation of the country’s supreme law. Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri at one time openly declared that he was a Zanu (PF) supporter.

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