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Zanu PF ignores court order on forcing students to rallies

The ruling Zanu PF party has courted the wrath of unions representing teachers after forcing students to its rallies despite the existence of a High Court ruling that stopped the practice. As a result, legal watchdog, Veritas, along with the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), have now been forced to instruct their lawyers to seek the High Court’s intervention.

Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally
Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally

Recently, the High Court ruled that learners and teachers should not be forced to attend political rallies and fund private political interests.

The High Court also ruled that political parties should not use school premises and property such as buses to pursue their interests.

This was after Artuz and Veritas had approached the courts to stop Zanu PF from abusing schools, school property, students and teachers.

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Zanu PF has appealed against the ruling at the Supreme Court on the basis that the practice ended with former president Robert Mugabe’s regime.

In its appeal, Zanu PF said the court erred in granting the order when there was no evidence linking same with the alleged infractions.

But in a statement issued yesterday, Artuz noted that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government which came to power through a soft coup last November has continued with the practice, regardless.

“Zanu PF party lodged an appeal against the High Court ruling on safe schools on July 4, 2018. After the appeal, the party is now in overdrive violating the provisions of the court order,” reads part of the statement.

According to Artuz, last week alone Zanu PF forced teachers in the Midlands and Mashonaland East provinces to attend its meetings and also commandeered buses to its rallies.

“On July 6, Zanu PF held a rally at Mapfungautsi Primary School in Gokwe. Buses from Rutendo High School in Kwekwe, Fletcher and Cheziya high schools were used to ferry some supporters. Learners from Mapfungautsi were forced to attend and learning was disrupted at the primary school,” said Artuz.

Artuz said the ruling party convened a rally on Saturday at Leibenberg High School in Chivhu where teachers from Chikomba District were asked to attend.

“It is crystal clear that the appeal by Zanu PF was aimed at suspending the court order so that the party could violate children and teachers’ rights with impunity.

“There is an urgent need to get relief for the teachers and learners. To mitigate against this mischievous act, Veritas and Artuz have instructed our lawyer, Doug Coltart, to seek leave to execute the order pending appeal. We will approach Masvingo High Court seeking the leave to execute Justice Mafusire’s safe schools order pending the Supreme Court’s determination on Zanu PF’s appeal”.

But Harare lawyer and vice president of the MDC led by Thokozani Khupe, Obert Gutu, said Zanu PF was not complying with the judgment because it was difficult to enforce.

“In law, there are court orders that are referred to as brutum fulmen i.e an ineffective legal judgment or put alternatively, a legal judgment that is incapable of being enforced. This appears to be one such order,” said Gutu.

“How do you enforce it in practical terms? If young people (including school children decide to voluntarily attend a political rally), how then will you hold anyone responsible for making them attend the rally?

“That said, all political parties should desist from actively commandeering school children to attend political rallies. In my humble opinion, this judgment is more symbolic than anything else,” he added. DailyNews