GWERU – The deputy leader of a union for rural teachers was arrested in Gweru on Tuesday, detained and interrogated before being freed without charge.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) called on its members to begin a three-day job boycott starting on Monday this week, pressing for salaries to be paid in United States dollars after the local currency plunged in value.
The union’s vice chairman Godfrey Chanda spent several hours at Gweru Central Police Station in what rights groups say is an escalation of attacks on rights groups by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s embattled government.
His arrest came just hours after a group of eight men driving in two unmarked vehicles knocked on doors and windows of the home of Heal Zimbabwe director Rashid Mahiya in Harare. They left when he did not open the locked doors.
ARTUZ said Chanda, following his interrogation by police, was later transferred to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Development House, also housing the Central Intelligence Organisation offices.
Chanda was later released but warned against addressing any teachers in Gweru.
Movement for Democratic Change vice president Tendai Biti said: “The continued assault on civic society leaders and indeed the continued closure of political space is unacceptable.
“The harassment of Rashid Mahiya, Godfrey Chanda and others is gross human rights abuse. The incarceration of seven activists on charges of subversion is paranoia at its worst . This is a fascist state.”
ARTUZ President Obert Masaraure on Monday said they want an average of US$500 in monthly salaries or the equivalent in the RTGS currency, which is about RTGS$2,750.
More teachers are said to be joining the strike as the ARTUZ members seek an extension of the three-day strike meant to end on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the government is meeting the biggest teachers union on Wednesday in the latest round of wage talks to prevent strikes.
Source: Zim Live