Harare – Six Female educators are among 16 who who were granted bail after spending over 6 days in police police cells since Wednesday 12th of January.
The group, all members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (Artuz) were arrested together with their president Obert Masaraure for demanding to be paid a monthly United States Dollar salary of US$540 at a National Social Security Authority (NSSA) building in Harare. The 16 were released on $5 000 bail each yesterday.
The 6 female teachers named in court papers are Sharon Tambudzai (27), Linda Nkiwani (38), Patricia Chiedza (40), Vimbai Mamutse (38), Sokuluthle Ndlovu (36) and Thembekile Ncube (48).
The state’s case against the 16 is that on 12 January they went and gathered unlawfully as the at the NSSA complex which houses the Public Service Commission in Harare. The accused were allegedly armed with sticks and stones while singing and chanting slogans and holding up protest placards.
Counter complaints were also submitted by the accused who alleged that they were assaulted by the police during arrest.
Human and women’s rights activists have come out in protest against the incarceration of the teachers especially the six accused women, citing the bad state of Zimbabwe’s prisons which are often rated as below the lowest human standards of living for prisoners.
Writing on her Facebook wall in lamentation of the plight of the group especially the six female teachers, Karen Mukwasi wrote:
“As a human being I’m appalled by this blatant disregard for human rights, as a friend to these cdes, I’m heartbroken and as a woman I’m outrages. 6 female teachers were arrested and have spent 5 horrible nights in custody. We all know the state of our holding cells and that of our prisons. What message are they sending to women who dare to lead? There is a reason why women’s we are still far from achieving that 50/50 representation provided by the constitution. Leadership involves speaking truth to power and every woman who dares to do that finds herself in dire straights. My question is best articulated in my mother tongue. Totungamirawo sei tichiti tikataura motipisa muromo? How do we fight for change in a country that is working hard to silence our voices? I stand with these women, they deserve to make a living through their chosen profession. They cannot continue to moonlight as vendors, hairdressers etc. It is not right!
In one of it’s fact finding missions to assess the working conditions at Zimbabwe’s prisons, the Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal Affairs Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
wrote that it had “noted with concern that there were serious shortages of food stuffs such as sugar, mealie-meal, cooking oil and meat at the prison. Inmates go for months without some of the basic commodities. The Committee was informed that due to scanty
allocations , it was very difficult to maintain and sustain the basic human standards or meeting the statutory obligations resulting in prisoners suffering from diseases such as pellagra , a skin disease caused by malnutrition.”
This was in addition to challenges noted with shared poor ablutions and unhygienic facilities as well as scarcity of water and power supplies.
What are your thoughts on the state of Zimbabwe’s prisons. Are they good enough for rehabilitating anyone?
What are your thoughts on teachers salaries? Must they be paid in USD?
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