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Teaching them a lesson: A report on the attack on Zimbabwean teachers | Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Teaching them a lesson: A report on the attack on Zimbabwean teachers

Reports of political violence against teachers were recorded in eight of the ten provinces of Zimbabwe. Bulawayo and Harare provinces had no reports of violence against teachers. The incidences recorded in the report do not in any way reflect the actual violence perpetrated against teachers as information collected is in no way exhaustive.

This report covers the period between 1 January 2001 and 31 June 2002. The reports came from three main sources, which are: statements from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum’s Legal Unit, statements from partner organisations of the Human Rights Forum, and reports that appeared in the public press. There were a total of 238 violations obtained from 68 reports made by the victims. 51.5 % of the reports were incidents that did not appear in the public press and were reported by the victims themselves. The largest number of violations was recorded in the torture/assault category, which made up 31.5% of the total violations.

The period under study saw the reported closure of 30 schools throughout the country. Most of the reported closures were due to teachers fleeing violence perpetrated against them and their subsequent refusal to go back until their safety was guaranteed. Apart from school closures, teachers were also chased away from their places of employment by either “war veterans” or Zanu PF supporters. The perpetrators would either go to the school where the individual taught and then physically remove them from their places of employment, or just order the transfer of teachers that they suspected to be MDC supporters. Teachers were also threatened with either job loss or personal injury if it was established that they supported MDC. At the highest level, this was done by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge, but it was also done by “war veterans” in Chimanimani, Bikita West, Masvingo Central, Mberengwa West and Zaka East. Some schools were also reportedly used as bases by the Zanu PF militia. These bases were used as torture centres , re-education centres and generally ‘spring boards’ from which they carried out their political activities.

The report also highlights two cases of pregnant teachers who were assaulted for being connected to the opposition MDC. One of the teachers lost her baby shortly after giving birth. The victim claims that her medical records show that the death of her child was due to the repeated assaults she suffered at the hands of war veterans and state agents. From these incidents, it can be concluded that the perpetrators committed violations against any teacher regardless of their sex or condition. It is also important to note that violence against teachers is still on going and that there is an urgent need to address this serious problem.

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