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ZANU PF legislators revolt against Chigwedere Bill
Ncube, The Financial Gazette
August 18, 2005
ZANU PF legislators
have revolted against Aeneas Chigwedere, the Minister of Education, Sport
and Culture over proposed amendments to the Education Act that would give
government virtual control over private schools.
Chigwedere, who has
accused private schools of being a law unto themselves and running a parallel
education system that discriminates against poorer pupils through what
he deems unrealistic fees, seeks to fix school fees, oversee recruitment
of staff and prescribe uniforms levies through the Bill.
The proposed amendments,
however, drew vehement opposition from the majority of ZANU PF legislators
this week, many of whom have children attending elite schools whose standards
would be threatened by uneconomic fees.
Ruling party insiders
said a parliamentary caucus had resolved not to support the proposed amendments.
"We indicated to (Patrick)
Chinamasa (the leader of the House) during our caucus in no uncertain
terms that we will not support the amendments in their present state,"
said a ZANU PF Politburo member, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"It was felt during
caucus that he (Chigwedere) had not consulted widely and the amendments
needed to be referred back to Cabinet," said the source.
Another source alleged
that Chigwedere had not consulted the Politburo before rushing the proposed
amendments to the Cabinet.
"He took it to Cabinet,
which approved it before forwarding it to Parliament. However, Chigwedere
has been left with egg all over his face because ZANU PF legislators are
against it," added a ZANU PF Member of Parliament.
The ruling party legislators
join a growing chorus of condemnation by private school trusts, teachers,
labour movements and parents' associations who believe the amendment sounds
the death knell for the country's already troubled education system.
Critics of the proposed
law say the offending sections are not practical given that Chigwedere's
ministry has previously failed to monitor and review fees at government
Last week the influential
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) and the Associated Trust Schools (ATS) presented submissions critical
of the proposed Bill to the parliamentary portfolio committee for education.
ATS officials fear that if the Bill passes in its present state, half
of the 61 schools registered with the pressure group face closure by mid-next
The justice, legal
and parliamentary affairs portfolio committee, chaired by Shadreck Chipanga,
the ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Makoni East, is expected to issue
an adverse report on the Education Amendment Bill.
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