Zimbabwe: Teachers vow to continue striking

JOHANNESBURG, 22 October (IRIN) - The leader of the nationwide teachers' strike underway in Zimbabwe has vowed to continue pressing for better pay, despite alleged government harrasment.
"The government's continued harassment has only strengthened our resolve to continue with the strike. The organisation's solidarity with my fate and the conditions I am facing is unquestionable," Raymond Majongwe secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) told IRIN.

Majongwe was released on Monday after a court dismissed fresh charges against him. He was detained after being accused of trying to force teachers at two schools in the capital, Harare, to join the dispute.

Under the controversial new Public Order and Security Act it is an offence for "any person who, acting in concert with one or more other persons, forcibly invades the rights of other people".

The union leader had been arrested twice last week for his role in the teachers' strike.

Majongwe confirmed reports that up to 2,000 students had taken to the streets of Harare on Monday to protest the dismissal of their teachers.

"So far our reports tell us that a teacher who has been accused of organising the protest in the Tafara and Mabvuku suburbs has been arrested," Majongwe said.

Last week the government ordered the dismissal of hundreds of teachers for taking part in a wage strike.

But Majongwe said most of those dismissed have not yet received official notice and have continued working.

"It is not up to the education ministry to fire teachers. Teachers are hired by the Public Service Commission. So far, the commission has not contacted any of the teachers," Majongwe said.

"It is the teachers' constitutional right to engage in a peaceful strike, and the regime should be, instead, making concerted efforts to address the grievances of the teachers who are the most expensive resource in the education system," legal affairs secretary of the opposition the Movement for Democratic Change David Coltart, told IRIN.

The teachers have been on strike since 8 October and are demanding a 100 percent salary increment backdated to January this year and another 100 percent cost of living adjustment backdated to June.


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