The Zimbabwe government has suspended absent teachers for three months without pay after only a few teachers turned up when schools were supposed to reopen this week after a long closure because of the Covid pandemic.
The teachers are demanding a substantial pay increase because their salaries have been eroded by inflation and the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar. They rejected as too low a government offer of a 20% increase and part payment in US dollars. They say their absence was not a strike but because of ‘incapacity’.
‘Teachers have been reduced to paupers. They are living in poverty’ said Obert Masaraure, president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union. Teachers were struggling to pay their own children’s school fees. Masaraure added ‘there is ongoing academic genocide. We are losing a whole generation that is now engaged in child marriages because they can’t be in school.’
More than half the population live in extreme poverty, worsened by Covid, according to a joint survey by the government, the World Bank and the United Nations children’s agency (see: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-02-10/zimbabwes-teachers-strike-amid-pandemic-and-high-inflation).
Meanwhile, Norton MP Temba Mliswa has hit out angrily at the Chinese, describing them as bullies who have captured government and initiated grand looting of the country’s resources. Mliswa questioned why the Chinese accused of beating up Chief Chivero at the Norton tiles manufacturer Sunny Yi Feng had not been arrested (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/drive-the-chinese-out-mliswa/).
The complaint followed a recent statement by a group of 27 Zimbabwean civil society organisations who criticised the operations of Chinese companies in Zimbabwe. The CSOs demanded that the government ‘must engage China and Chinese investors for being socially irresponsible, violating human rights and illegally extracting natural resources of the country.’ (See: https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/chinese-firms-face-negative-sentiment-in-zimbabwe-as-they-pose-threat-to-natural-resources-articleshow.html).
Another controversial former Zanu PF leader, Professor Jonathan Moyo, has described the use of Nelson Chamisa’s face as an election symbol for his newly launched Citizens’ Coalition for Change as ‘a genius’ marketing move. He said it would be instantly recognisable in both urban and rural areas as the party of the person who broke the 2 million voter barrier in the 2018 election ‘which some of us who looked carefully into elections are aware he won’. (See: https://cite.org.zw/use-of-chamisa-face-as-election-symbol-not-occultism/.)
- ‘A chilling lesson in the fragility of democracy’ was the headline above a review in the London Times this week of a film shown on BBC television. It was a documentary by Camilla Nielsson titled ‘President’ showing how the 2018 Zimbabwe election was stolen by Zanu PF (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1196-a-chilling-lesson-in-the-fragility-of-democracy). The film can be seen on BBC iPlayer on this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001498x/storyville-president.
- Because of concerns about the Covid Omicron variant, the Vigil Co-ordinators suspended the physical meetings at the Embassy. We will review this when the situation improves. In the meantime we will continue to run the Virtual Vigil as we did during lockdown. The Virtual Vigil shows the powers-that-be that we are still campaigning against their iniquitous behaviour and enables our activists to continue our protest and allows us to support them individually. Activists who wish to participate virtually should pose in their Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia with a relevant poster and take a photo / selfie during normal Vigil hours (Saturdays between 2 and 5 pm). The photos will be labelled with your name and uploaded onto the Vigil website, the Vigil’s Flickr photo page and Facebook. You will also be listed on the Vigil diary as having participated in that day’s virtual Vigil. There will be a small charge to cover admin costs, the ongoing upkeep of the Vigil and our support for the human rights work of ROHR, our sister organisation in Zimbabwe. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720296634894 for today’s photos. Our virtual Vigil activist today was Nolanga Ndlovu who kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
Events and Notices:
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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