PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has issued a chilling warning to teachers saying they face beatings for failing to support the ruling Zanu PF party.
Addressing over 5 000 teachers at the launch of the Teachers for Economic Development (ED) at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) yesterday, Mnangagwa said the party needed “co-operation” of all teachers for it not to “lose the game” in next year’s polls.
“Our party and government are ready to support you,” Mnangagwa said.
“We have the Zanu PF chairperson here (Oppah Muchinguri). You (Muchunguri) heard me telling them that the Zanu PF party supports them (teachers).
“Your children here (the teachers) have chosen to stand with us. Nurture and guide them. Those who would have shown errant behaviour, you should pinch them, don’t beat them too much Anenge aita musikanzwa munoshunya hamunyanyi kurova.”
Party officials promised to pamper teachers affiliated to the ruling party with various perks, including farmland, agricultural inputs in return for their loyalty.
Earlier, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga had said Teachers for ED was a Zanu affiliate with the mandate to mobilise support for Mnangagwa’s re-election bid in 2023.
Mnangagwa said the teachers were crucial for Zanu PF’s re-election bid, adding that: “If the party loses the co-operation of the teachers, we lose the game.”
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“The patriotism, loyalty, honesty and integrity which you have demonstrated within the education sector is a paradigm shift and will be treasured,” Mnangagwa said.
“I really did not think that after all that has been said and the noise that comes from this sector that a teacher would really support Zanu PF.”
Muchinguri, who is also the Defence minister, said “anti-Zanu PF teachers” were “sell-outs”.
“I want to appreciate the Teachers for ED for putting their hands on the deck for the tasks of building our economy and defending the legacy of the second republic,” Muchinguri said.
“This resonates very well with the values of our liberation struggle as inculcated to the teachers by the Chitepo School of Ideology. We don’t want to hear any more of the reproach against our teachers that they are sell-outs. Let’s stop it now.”
Teachers have been at loggerheads with the Zanu PF-led government over their working conditions, and have been demanding US$540 as salary to make ends meet as the cost of living keeps rising.
On several occasions, government has maintained that it has no capacity to meet their demands, forcing the educators to embark on protests.
Addressing the same gathering, some Zanu PF officials said teachers stood to benefit if they support Mnangagwa and the ruling party.
“We have taken a bold step since the launch of the Teachers for ED chapters in the provinces. In the upcoming Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme, we have allocated 10 plots of Pfumvudza for every government school in the province.
“This year, the Teachers for ED will get one plot each of inputs at selected sites and they will not have to join the queue,” Harare provincial secretary Tafadzwa Muguti said.
In response, Teachers for ED leaders endorsed Mnangagwa’s candidature for the 2023 elections.
“We are here to be taught how to move from here. You are our light. As teachers for Economic Development we declare today (yesterday) that you are our sole candidate and we are to stand by you,” Teachers for ED national chairperson Amon Chiwocha said.