ZANU PF is now targeting teachers in rural areas which it is intimidating and coercing to support the party and help it mobilise voters ahead of watershed polls expected later this year.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week teachers in Zanu PF strongholds in Mashonaland provinces, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland are under increasing pressure to pledge their support to the party.
Last week teachers in these regions were given forms titled Special Vote Requirement to fill in all their identity details and current stations without being told the purpose of the forms. It is feared this is part of Zanu PFs voter intimidation and mobilisation strategy.
We were just asked to complete these forms and return them to the headmasters who will surrender them to Zanu PF offices, said one teacher in Mashonaland Central.
The forms shown to this paper ask the teachers for their details including full names, employment numbers, ward and constituencies of origin.
The forms have unnerved teachers who fear a recurrence of the 2008 election violence in which they became targets of brutality after being accused of supporting the MDC-T.
Zimbabwe teachers’ unions said their members have, as in 2008, become targets of political violence intended to silence them ahead of elections.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said Zanu PF was out to intimidate vulnerable teachers in rural areas to secure votes.
We have reports of such intimidation in all the provinces in the country and this is a clear case of intimidation ahead of elections, said Majongwe. Those forms do not serve any purpose except to intimidate our members who now feel they are under serious scrutiny.
Majongwe also said headmasters from Manicaland and Mashonaland provinces were taken for political orientation lessons during the school holidays and are expected to mobilise support for Zanu PF.
We have reports Zanu PF was working with the Zimbabwe Teachers Association during the holidays and they conducted political orientation lectures. Some headmasters were taken to Chimoio in Mozambique, and all this is meant to influence the teachers votes,he said.
Recently the PTUZ alleged a new wave of violence is rising against teachers under an operation code-named Operation Vharamuromo, (operation close your mouth) intended to suppress anti-Zanu PF dissent and critics.
A 2010 survey by the PTUZ suggested between 65 000 -75 000 teachers were displaced due to violence by war veterans and youth militia prior to the June 2008 blood-soaked presidential election run-off.