By Tendai Kamhungira
At least nine members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Unions of Zimbabwe (Artuz) were yesterday arrested by the police before being released while demonstrating against government’s failure to pay them in United States dollars (USDs).
Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere confirmed the incident soon after they were released without charge.
“We were arrested and detained by the police at the Harare Central Police Station for three hours. Our lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Doug Coltart came and facilitated our release. Right now, we are offering free lessons in the Africa Unity Square, and from there we are going to proceed to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s office, where we are going to camp,” Chere said.
Those that were arrested are Obert Masaraure, Chere, Fortune Jamela, Regai Chinhuto, Gerald Tavengwa, Lawrence Mapengo, Andrew Munguri, Munyaradzi Ndawana and Christine Jubane.
As the Artuz members were being arrested, the union’s vice president Descent Bajila was locked up in a meeting with the Finance minister, discussing their grievances.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), a civil society organisation, has condemned the arrests.
“Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition notes with concern that the government, instead of addressing the concerns of its workers, has turned brutal against suffering civil servants and the ordinary citizens. Such a militant approach can only serve to worsen the situation in the country.
“Zimbabwe’s Constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate peacefully and as CiZC we are disturbed by the flagrant violation of workers’ rights by the government,” the organisation said.
The teachers have been pushing for the payment of their salaries in USDs, claiming their earnings have been seriously eroded by inflation as a result of the relentless price hikes being experienced countrywide.
In a statement over the weekend, Artuz said besides demanding USD salary payments, teachers also seek adequate supply of learning material in schools for the new curriculum, payment of the 2018 annual bonus in full as well as the scrapping of a two percent tax introduced by government in October last year.
Late last year, Artuz members staged a protest march from Mutare to Harare pressing for better salaries and improved working conditions.
During the demonstration, some of their members were arrested. DailyNews