By A Correspondent- Rural female teachers under the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and two other civic society organisations have launched a platform to pressure President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to guarantee them freedom of association and assembly.
This comes amid reports of an increase in government clampdown on female teachers after some of them were arrested and abused over illegal gatherings.
Last year, a female teacher from Masvingo, Sheila Chisirimunhu was arrested and brought to court for participating in a peaceful demonstration demanding a living wage.
Karen Mukwasi, director of Pada Platform, an organisation partnering Artuz and the Economic Justice for Women Project in the campaign, told NewsDay that their initiative would coincide with the International Women’s Day that is being commemorated today.
“We are commemorating International Women’s Day under the theme #ChooseToChallenge. It is impossible for women to challenge repressive systems if they are not free to associate and assemble. Women require safe spaces where they can advocate for their causes and fully participate in all democratic processes,” she said.
Mukwasi bemoaned the recent arrest of Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe and MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, saying such arrests formed the basis of their demand for their rights to be respected.
“If women’s rights of association and assembly were to be guaranteed, Zimbabwe would have a better democratic space and improvement of social services as well as gender equality,” Mukwasi said.
Artuz vice-president Gaudencia Mandiwopera said female teachers were being victimised for associating with her organisation.
“Attempts to fight for labour justice, including the right to fully paid maternity leave and a decent wage are met with brutal repression from the State. Our intention is to open the democratic space so that female teachers can freely associate and assemble in pursuit of labour justice,” Mandiwopera said.