BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
SIX parents and teachers in Mutoko were arrested on Thursday after staging a protest against the deterioration of standards in the education sector, before handing a copy of their grievances to government.
The protest, which occurred at Mutoko Centre, shocked many as it was one of the few to be held within a Zanu PF stronghold.
Some of those arrested were members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz).
Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza said he had not yet received information concerning the arrests.
According to police sources in Mutoko, the accused, Precious Kanyuchi, Esnath Kadoro, Ruth Kurebwaseka, Previous Chari, Nomatter Chiripanyanga and Memory Kasaira, were arrested for engaging in an unlawful protest.
In a petition submitted to the district schools inspector, the aggrieved parents and teachers demanded better wages and staff accommodation, especially in the rural areas, among other things.
“May you quickly intervene in the following anomalies in our education system: pay our teachers decent salaries; we want education equalisation fund; no to extra lessons; give rural teachers retention allowances; new curriculum is proving to be a burden to the general populace …,” the petition read in part.
Artuz president Obert Masaraure confirmed the arrests.
“I confirm the arrest of both the parents and teachers who handed over a petition to government in Mutoko. Among those detained is a baby. We condemn the barbaric arrest of parents and teachers who were simply petitioning them to provide quality education. We demand the unconditional release of the arrested citizens. These arrests will not deter us from building an education consensus across Zimbabwe,” he said.
Teachers have been on the forefront demanding better salaries and working conditions, while parents have blasted government over the recent hike in public examination fees, a move the government had to reverse following intense pressure.