A High Court ruling has barred Zanu PF from forcing school children and teachers to attend its rallies and party activities, ahead of the make-or-break elections on July 30.
Initially, Zanu PF had tried to stop the hearing of the matter, citing “technicalities in the application”, but the court ruled that the case was urgent. The ruling, delivered by Justice Joseph Mafusire at the Masvingo High Court yesterday, comes barely a week after a bomb exploded during a Zanu PF rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
Hordes of school children were forced to attend the rally which was addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The bomb blast left two people dead, while several others were injured.
According to a statement released by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), which dragged Zanu PF to court in a bid to stop the practice, the party was also prohibited from using school facilities and properties to further its “political interests”.
Zanu PF and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education were listed as the respondents. ARTUZ was represented by Douglas Coltart of Mtetwa and Nyambirai Law Firm which was engaged by Veritas.
“The court wholesomely adopted ARTUZ recommendations that: school children should not be forced to attend rallies. Political parties should not use school property such as buses to pursue private political interests,” ARTUZ wrote.
“Teachers should not be forced to fund and participate in private political processes.”
An interim court interdict was granted in the presence of both respondents.
Zanu PF has over the years established a culture of forcing school children and teachers to attend rallies, disrupting classes in the process. It has become a norm for schoolchildren to recite poems or sing songs praising Zanu PF leaders. During former president Robert Mugabe’s 37-year hold on power, school children were forced to attend rallies and the practice has continued on Mnangagwa’s watch.
In most cases children have to contend with harsh weather conditions as they are forced to wait for hours in the blazing heat. In some cases children are subjected to rain or the cold.