POLICE yesterday swooped on Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) leader Obert Masaraure and fourteen other teachers as they were protesting poor salaries in Harare.
In a statement, Artuz confirmed Masaraure’s arrest and said some of their members remained unaccounted for by last night. Other teachers arrested included Wellington Gweshe, Sukoluhle Ndlovu, Linia Nkiwane, Rudo Maburutse among others.
They were picketing at NSSA House when a truckload of anti-riot cops cornered them and took them to Harare Central.
Public Service minister Paul Mavima refued to comment on the arrests saying he was on leave, but the rural teachers’ union blasted him saying he has already failed to follow up on his promises for a better start to 2022.
“Mavima promised that 2022 is a good year for civil servants. Teachers nationwide are preparing to celebrate the restoration of the pre-October 2018 salaries. We hope the government gets it right this time so that we revive the classroom,” the rural teachers said.
“Our demands are clear restoration of the pre-2018 October salaries among a number of issues that need to be resolved. But police have disrupted our demonstration;, several teachers have been arrested.”
However, there was confusion over the arrest, with Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza saying: “I will have to check, but for now, I have not received such a report.”
Yet freelance journalist Marry Mundeya was indeed arrested while covering the protest, but was later released after the intervention of lawyers.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who rescued Mundeya also confirmed her arrest and subsequent release.
“Police officers had taken issue that Mundeya was executing her professional duties illegally by using a media accreditation card for 2021. But Mandeya was later on released after the intervention of our lawyer who indicated that Zimbabwe Media Commission is yet to process media accreditation cards for 2022,” ZLHR said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions secretary-general David Dzatsunga said the US dollar salaries were now becoming more of a right because the economy had effectively re-dollarized.
“We are just basically looking at the United States dollar salary that is becoming more than an expectation, but it is becoming more of a right because we are looking at the economy and the economic dynamics and it is clearly pointing to the fact that RTGS salaries are no longer sustainable.”
He added: “Even if you look back at the bonus decision that the government made unilaterally out of its own wisdom that giving us RTGS salaries was not the correct way, this should spur it to push this into salaries after that realisation.”