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Police bars PTUZ from commemorating World Teachers' Day
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
October 04, 2007

On World Teachers' Day, we celebrate teachers across continents, in all countries, in towns and in villages, and thank them for their continued efforts often in difficult circumstances. In acknowledging the vital role they play, we reaffirm the need to continue to work together to better understand the issues and ensure that we are equipped to make the right choices so that teachers are recruited, trained, and supported in ways that lead to a motivated, effective teaching force, able to contribute to our shared goal of achieving quality education for all children.
- Education International President, Thulas Nxesi

Police in the city of Bulawayo have warned the Progressive Teacher's Union against going ahead with its commemorations of the World Teacher's Day, a day which was set aside by the United Nations in recognition of the pivotal roles played by teachers in the world. The Officer Commanding Bulawayo District, Chief Superintendent Wasara communicated to the PTUZ offices in Bulawayo citing flimsy excuses why the police are blocking the teachers from joining the rest of the world in celebrating their day.

Chief among the reasons cited is that the organization has communicated to its members to remain on the current job action till the teachers' grievances are addressed. He argued that the teachers' union is bent on tarnishing the image of the country; hence the police will foil the activities of the organization tomorrow.

However, the PTUZ has filed an urgent court application with the High Court arguing that the police has no jurisdiction to block their meeting. The case will be heard in the High Court tomorrow at 12 noon.

More so PTUZ will file a formal complaint to Education International against the state interference in the activities of the teacher's union. The PTUZ is an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which is also an affiliate of ILO. Under the ILO, governments are not allowed to interfere with labour organization activities.

Irrespective of the threats from the police, the teachers' union has vowed that it will go ahead with the planned action on Saturday rather than tomorrow. The Secretary General Ray Majongwe argued that they will not be stopped from celebrating their day because of a paranoid police force. Majongwe outlined that the ruling party has never notified the police of its activities such as celebrating the hero's day but the police have not interfered with their activities.

The Zimbabwean government and police do not seem to appreciate the difficult conditions which the teachers are operating under. The majority the teachers are living a paupers life far below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) irrespective of the commitment they have always exhibited towards their duties.

As in the words of Nxesi, teachers are working under difficult circumstances, the least the state can do is to allow them to join their counterparts in the world to celebrate their profession, if they value their contribution towards national development.

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