Thursday, May 23, 2024

Elections mean more trouble for Zimbabwe’s teachers

Elections are just around the corner and nothing terrifies a Zimbabwean teacher more than an impending referendum or national election.

Teachers have become scapegoats for Robert Mugabe’s dwindling support base, especially in the rural areas.

Mugabe suspects that it is the teachers who explain issues to the rural folks, resulting in people turning away from him and his party.

For years, we have witnessed the abduction of teachers, with some altogether disappearing in Zimbabwe.

Last week, six teachers were reported to have been abducted by the Central Intelligence Organisation operatives in Mashonaland Central Province. ?The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe went as far as petitioning South African President Jacob Zuma and the United Nations “to safeguard the lives of our members, who are being targeted by ZANU PF militants ahead of a possible constitutional referendum and elections next year”.?Since just after independence, teachers have been targeted by ZANU-PF. Unlike other professions, teachers are in every part of the country.?

Teachers were once accorded a lot of respect because of their role in molding and teaching our children. They were, literally, surrogate parents when our children were away from us. Because of this long standing tradition of respect, Mugabe and ZANU-PF are very suspicious of teachers.??ZANU-PF thinks teachers influence pupils who then influence their parents or elders at home.?Mugabe’s party suspects that teachers, after decades and decades of abuse by ZANU-PF, are against them, accusing teachers of spreading anti-ZANU PF gospel in the rural areas where Mugabe once derived most of his support.?Because of their literacy and presence in just about every corner of the country, teachers cannot be ignored during elections or other outreach programmes, like health matters.??Teachers are often hired to explain, in local dialect or language, government programmes and initiatives.?They are always roped to man polling stations and assist illiterate people to vote.?Teachers are always at the forefront because, by virtue of their profession, they have a presence almost everywhere and are humbly in touch with the grassroots.?They unwittingly influence societies within which they work. Because they can control information and easily influence people, they are viewed with suspicion.??Mugabe should be proud that he is, professionally, a qualified school teacher. That is the only professional qualification he has.

There are claims that he studied law but no records exist of him ever setting foot in any courtroom in the world, or of him sitting for bar examinations anywhere.?Mugabe also says he studied economics but looking at the state of our nation today, I would be foolish to believe he ever opened an economics text book.??But, like many other Zimbabweans, Mugabe had an insatiable thirst for higher education and ended up at Fort Hare in South Africa, the only university campus he ever set foot on.?Whatever university degrees Mugabe later acquired were by correspondence from Ian Smith’s jail and that, alone, should put Mugabe to shame.?Ian Smith and his predecessors imprisoned thousands of Zimbabweans before independence, among them Mugabe himself, but they still afforded Mugabe an education that was not even available to many free people outside of jail.?I find it extremely repulsive that Mugabe was incarcerated by colonial governments for years but still managed to leave prison with more education than he had before the arrest.??And there were many of them. They came out of prison well-educated men, with degrees and diplomas.?

Mugabe went into Ian Smith’s jails fighting for a worthy cause but came out with degrees yet, today, Mugabe imprisons people for no reason and, on their release, are vegetables who die within a few months or years after leaving prison.?Looking at Mugabe today, I can see that Ian Smith did an excellent job of caring for him when he was behind bars.?The colonialists afforded Mugabe education.

The Catholic Church extended their help to him, like they did with other students at that time.??Yet, today, Mugabe denies his own people an education. He harasses Church leaders and interferes with teachers who are bringing education to Zimbabwean children.?He cannot extend education to people in the same manner he benefitted from colonial ‘mercy’.?A promotion is a very dangerous thing. A driver who has won ‘Driver of the Year Award’ for six years running is not necessarily a good administrator to oversee other drivers because he is nothing more than a driver.?I have heard it countless times: “You are just a police officer”, “You are just a builder”, “You are just a nurse”, etc.?We are all nothing more than what we are.??Mugabe is nothing more than a school teacher and he should be proud of that instead of trying to pass himself off as a liberator, a lawyer, an economist or a president because he has failed to excel in any one of them.

An excellent nurse promoted to Matron does not mean better hospital administration because hospital administrators don’t go to Nursing School but to the School of Administration.

There are many Transport Officers who don’t even have a driver’s license.?Mugabe was ambitious but look what our country has become because of misplaced ambition.

While his children are studying in foreign countries, he is terrorising our?school teachers back home.?At the airport, he gives a vote of no confidence to our own qualified doctors as he flies to foreign countries for medical attention.?There is no better admission of guilt than this.

The man is stuck in colonial awe. Indigenisation, indeed!?I cannot think of any other professionals who have suffered and continue to suffer under Robert Mugabe as much as teachers.?Mugabe grew up in an era when school teachers were revered and accepted as surrogate parents.?Teachers have always been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s paranoia.?Since elections of the late 80s when people started wondering about Mugabe’s personality and ability, teachers have been blamed for situations they did not create.?Mugabe showed his disdain for informing the people by prohibiting non-governmental organisations from carrying out country-wide voter education and voter registration exercises.?Mugabe is afraid of well-informed voters.

It is shameful that teachers do not get the kind of respect they deserve.?Teachers spend more time with our children than we parents do and the influence they have on our children and society cannot be underestimated.??Mugabe and his party must give teachers the respect they deserve. Teachers are responsible for the education of a nation.?Is Mugabe not ashamed that the colonialists he always rants against so much gave him a much more superior education than he is giving Zimbabweans today??Even though severely underpaid, teachers trudge on and do their best for society and, more importantly, for our children.?You find them in the remotest of areas in Zimbabwe…teaching our children.?I feel pained to see the kind of treatment teachers are getting from both ZANU-PF and society.

A school teacher is our children’s babysitter.?A school teacher teaches our children what we don’t teach them. The school teacher’s patience with children that are not his must be applauded. And Mugabe unleashes illiterate school drop-outs to go around the country terrorising teachers, disturbing our children’s education.?I am mighty glad that Mugabe did not stay long in teaching. We are still to see even a few of Mugabe’s successful pupils proudly popping up, proclaiming that they “were taught by this great man”.

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