Harare - Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers arrested nine leaders of a teachers’ union who had convened at Africa Unity Square protesting poor working conditions and demanding payment in hard currency on Monday.
The picked Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) were briefly detained at Harare Central Police Station and later released without being charged following the intervention on the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
Immediately after their release, the teachers picketed at Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices.
The teachers convened what they called a #salarycamp and intended to march from the park to the finance ministry’s offices.
The arrested ARTUZ leaders are Obert Masaraure, Christine Jubane, Robson Chere, Regai Chinhuto, Fortune Jamela, Lawrence Mapengo, Andrew Munguri, Munyaradzi Ndawana and Gerald Tawengwa.
ZLHR confirmed deploying lawyers to offer emergency legal support services to ARTUZ leaders.
ARTUZ are demanding payment of their salaries in foreign currency and full payment of their annual bonus.
The rural teachers’ body is part of other teacher unions that have threatened job action as schools open Tuesday.
After eventually conceding that there was no lawful basis for detaining them, the police released @ARTUZ16 teachers and we marched out singing back to Africa Unity Square. Must be the first demo ever to have started INSIDE Harare Central Police Station!😄 #VivaARTUZ #SalaryCamp pic.twitter.com/OoZVPICRYn— Doug Coltart ✊🏽🇿🇼 (@DougColtart) January 7, 2019
📹 The moment @ARTUZ16 teachers reached Africa Unity Square after their march from inside the belly of Harare Central Police Station back to the spot they were “arrested”. @PoliceZimbabwe released them without charge after hours of various officers passing the buck. #SalaryCamp pic.twitter.com/C2cK4Lj4a9— Doug Coltart ✊🏽🇿🇼 (@DougColtart) January 7, 2019
The teachers and other civil servants like doctors are demanding immediate action by their employer on effects of runaway erosion of the value of Zimbabwe’s surrogate currency, known as the bond note.
However, despite threats of total service collapse by the civil servants, government is unmoved by the unrest and has repeatedly said they will not pay anyone in United States dollars.
Information, media and broadcasting services ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana described the demands by the civil servants as “expecting blood to ooze out of the stone”.
“Government wants a positive relationship with its employees based on trust, honesty and commitment to engagement,” he said.
“In all frankness, it is very clear that it won’t pay salaries in US dollars because it just can’t. This is an economic reality and surely blood cannot ooze out of a stone.”
African News Agency/ANA