Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) condemns in the strongest of terms utmost contempt it deserves the abuse of schools and their properties, especially buses, in the ensuing ZANU PF factional fights which have since seen the fall of disgraced former Vice President Emmerson Mnangangwa.
As part of the Safe Schools campaign, ARTUZ has been receiving dozens of reports of political meetings taking place in schools across the country as ZANU PF continues to implode.
In Bindura, Mashonaland Central, Chipanze Primary School was the venue for a ZANU PF Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting held on 5 November 2017.
In Manicaland, Chipinge district, the following schools had a number of political meetings going on: Checheche High School, Takwira High School and Matione Primary School. These meetings were held at different times on 6, 7 and 8 November 2017.
In Masvingo, Bikita, a meeting was held by ZANU PF structures at Gumunye school on 7 November 2017.
In Matabeleland South, Umzingwane District, a meeting was held at Matshetsheni Primary school and another at Mawabeni Secondary school by ZANU PF structures where skirmishes broke out between rival factions.
As the ruling party continues to breakdown, rural schools are turning into battlefields as rival factions fight for control of the party thereby disrupting smooth learning.
In addition to school premises which are being abused, school buses have also been hijacked by the fractious party to ferry supporters from rural areas to its headquarters in Harare for a march. Dozens of school buses from schools such as St Pauls Musami among others brought hundreds of supporters at the expense of schools to the ZANU PF headquarters.
ARTUZ launched the Safe Schools campaign in September 2017 as a way to ensure security and safety of teachers before, during and after the 2018 elections.
The union has also approached the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and filed a complaint against President Mugabe and his wife for abusing schools and pupils when undertaking their political activities.
The union calls on the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to uphold provisions of the Constitution and various international declarations and covenants which Zimbabwe is party to.
All these provisions make education a fundamental human right which must be accessible to all. Politicization of schools is undermining attainment of this right in rural areas.
ARTUZ also calls on SADC, the AU and UN agencies to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to honour its obligation by barring political activities in schools.
We will continue to give further updates on the situation in schools as we head towards the 2018 elections.