THOUSANDS of teachers have been commandeered to attend the launch today in Harare of the Teachers for Economic Development (ED), a shadowy union reported to be championing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-election bid.
The three-day event is being held at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) amid allegations that schools were made to donate US$10 towards the launch.
NewsDay is also reliably informed that organisers of the Teachers for ED launch have reportedly ordered some schools to avail buses to ferry educators from different parts of the country to HICC.
“Through your Teachers for Economic Development local structures, authority is hereby granted that you release those who have been selected to attend the launch for Teachers for Economic Development,” a memo dated October 17, 2022 written by Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela read.
“Local schools have been identified for use by each province as they check into Harare. Provincial education directors must make sure that the examination process is scheduled with adequate invigilators and monitoring taking place as well.”
Teachers attending the launch will be drawn from each of the 10 provinces, and will be housed at selected schools in Harare such as Selbourne Routledge, Churchill, Roosevelt, Lewisam Primary, Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth, among others.
Each of the selected schools will host at least 250 teachers.
Information obtained shows that schools were ordered to contribute US$10 for the event without the option to pay in local currency.
“Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, there is a pressing issue. Each school is supposed to pay U$10 today, the latest tomorrow morning,” a message directed to school heads by a school inspector in Mwenezi district, Masvingo province read.
“This payment is towards transport costs for the Teachers for ED launch. Identification of teachers to attend has been done. Treat this as a matter of urgency. IT IS A MUST and strictly CASH.”
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro insisted that the teachers for ED programmes were beneficial to teachers.
“As the Teachers for Economic Development officially launch their organisation this week they will mount exhibitions to showcase the entrepreneurship projects and legitimate businesses that have been set up by the teachers themselves as well as their students — both formal and non-formal,” Ndoro said.
“Such projects and business ventures are not only benefiting teachers themselves, but also contributing to the development of their schools and communities.
“Our ministry looks forward to a successful engagement with these innovative and entrepreneurial-minded teachers. These are the facts and not conjecture.”
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) described the demand for sponsorship from school by Teachers for ED as politicisation of the education system.
ZPP director Jestina Mukoko said: “We are doing our best to point out these issues and we are working hand-in-hand with the Zimbabwe Human rights Commission to address such issues.”
The three-day event coincides with the writing of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council Ordinary Level examinations.
A number of shadowy groups in support of Mnangagwa have been formed of late, causing disgruntlement in some quarters in Zanu PF which accuse the party leader of creating parallel structures for campaign purposes..