By A Correspondent- President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused the United Kingdom (UK) embassy of funding trade unions of pursuing a regime change agenda.
His utterances come at a time when there is a deadlock between government and teachers over the payment of allowances to invigilate ongoing Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) examinations.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have refused to invigilate the examinations.
Mnangagwa’s remarks also have the potential to compromise relations between Harare and London further.
Mnangagwa said a foreign hand influenced the conduct of teacher unions and singled out the UK embassy.
“The British extra-territorial concern by a foreign legislature on a sovereign African State, which is a full and equal member of the United Nations, is grossly unwarranted in terms of tenets of international law and practise,” he said.
“Because of this brazen, self-confessed violation of our sovereignty and threat to our national security and stability by the British government, my government will institute full and thorough investigations into this grave matter.
“Zimbabwe is a sovereign State, has been since independence from colonial rule in 1980, which is not even affiliated to the Commonwealth, a body it voluntarily quit over differences related to her just land reform programme.
“Equally, civic groups and teachers employed by the Zimbabwe government to work here in Zimbabwe are not employees of the British government, whether by contract or remuneration. Their activities, singly or in combination, have nothing to do with the British government or any foreign government for that matter.”
But teacher unions dismissed Mnangagwa’s threats as an attempt to gag them from demanding better wages and improved conditions of service.
The educators are demanding US dollar-denominated salaries or the equivalent in local currency.
“We are aware of the African proverb that, ‘when a leopard wants to eat its young ones, it first accuses them of smelling like a goat’,” PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said.
“Government is such a leopard in this scenario. Such ludicrous hallucinations are not only baffling, but are madness of the worst order.”
Artuz president Obert Masaraure added: “We are no one’s agent, but we have a right to decide to change a corrupt and clueless regime. Our families are starving because of underpayment and our education is collapsing.”