State security operatives reportedly pounced on Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) leader, Takavafira Zhou’s office on Thursday last week following reports of his involvement in the planned national shutdown.
By Brenna Matendere
The majority of PTUZ members across the country are reportedly boycotting classes citing incapacitation, while the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the main opposition MDC party have threatened a national shutdown protest over the deteriorating economy.
Unsettled by these developments, three Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives pounced at Zhou’s offices in Masvingo, while others called him from Kwekwe in a bid to thwart the impending shutdown.
“They were trying to the link teachers’ strike with threats of a shutdown and we informed them that our struggle is a dispute with the employer in which the employer unilaterally (devalued) teachers’ salaries from US$500 to US$35. That is tantamount to unfair labour practice,” Zhou told NewsDay on Saturday.
“I explained to the CIOs that the shutdown of shops is not part of our agenda, but staying away from work because of incapacitation. They also interrogated us on our 2014 banner, whose other writing thread demanded ‘accountability over diamonds and other minerals’ and I explained our expectation of responsible leadership that should judiciously use minerals for the benefit of all Zimbabweans as opposed to self-aggrandisement and economic banditry.”
Zhou also revealed that police from the Central Investigations Department (CID) contacted him over the stayaway by teachers in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hometown of Kwekwe.
“I also received a phone call from CID in Kwekwe, who wanted to know why PTUZ teachers have not reported for work and I also explained to them that teachers’ incapacitation was the modus operandi,” he said.
Last year, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure was abducted by suspected CIO operatives, who tortured him for leading a strike.
Zhou said he was still assessing the situation in order to measure his safety.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said he was not aware whether or not the police were investigating Zhou as he was out of office.
“I am currently out of office as it is a weekend. I am, therefore, unable to comment on that one because I can’t look for the facts at the moment,” he said.