Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a consortium of civic society organisations, has condemned the government for police brutality against teachers who protest for a salary raise, equating the conduct to a violation of citizens’ right to demonstrate.
This follows the recent arrest of 15 members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), a teachers’ union on January 12, in Harare who were demanding salaries pegged in United States dollars.
Teachers and the government have been at loggerheads over poor remuneration at a time when the country’s economy is failing.
“We implore the state to uphold citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to protest which is guaranteed under Section 59 of the constitution as well as the right to fair labour practices as guaranteed under Section 65 of the constitution,” read a statement issued by the coalition.
“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition we stand in solidarity with the teachers in Zimbabwe who together with other civil servants, continue to receive slave wages from the government. We call upon teacher unions across the country to unite in demanding a living wage and resist the divide and rule tactics from the government.”
The coalition noted it was dismayed by the fact that the government continues to respond with brutal force to genuine calls for a living wage in a highly inflationary environment.
“What is more disturbing is the fact that the government continues to show insincerity towards addressing the plight of teachers and civil servants at a time corruption and looting by political elites is rampant. We continue to witness more talk and no action as far as addressing the plight of teachers and civil servants is concerned,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, ARTUZ has bemoaned the manner in which members of their organisation were assaulted by the police.
“ARTUZ is appalled and disgusted by the heavy handed response of the state in dealing with our members who had gone to peacefully sit in whilst waiting for the NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Committee) and for Cecilia Alexander (Apex Council president) to address them but alas the police blew things out of proportion because of their agenda of failing to reconcile common sense and reality,” said ARTUZ.
The fighting spirit continues despite the physical injuries meted out on our membership and ARTUZ remains determined to restore teacher dignity and we will be campaigning for the restoration of our salaries and the restoration of the classroom.”