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Mugabe targets teacher union leaders

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government has turned to strong-arm tactics in a bid to stop a planned demonstration led by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, (ARTUZ), it has been learnt.

ARTUZ will tomorrow embark on a countrywide wild-cat strike code-named "Pockets Out" as a way of illustrating the poverty among educators in the country.

In a statement, ARTUZ leader Obert Masaraure said leading provincial figures in the union had come under attack amid claims of abductions and torture.

"ARTUZ is angered by the barbaric tactics being employed by the State in a desperate bid to silence our bold union," he said.

"The State has deployed security agents across the country to harass our leadership, threatening them with unspecified action."
Masaraure added that the ARTUZ provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West had been "abducted" and quizzed for hours on end before being released.

"Yesterday (Monday), our Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, Cde Munyaradzi Ndawana, was abducted from his workplace at Slaughter Primary School in Makonde," Masaraure said.

"Ndawana was taken to Chinhoyi's NSSA (National Social Security) building, where six members of the infamous spy grouping (Central Intelligence Organisation) interrogated and harassed him for five hours and released him after threatening him with unspecified action if he remains a member of our union.

"This abduction comes barely a week after another member of the Intelligence grouping based in Rusape, called our national president (Masaraure), demanding contacts of members based in Rusape and Manicaland, a request that was shot down with the contempt it deserved."

Masaraure said as of Tuesday, another unnamed ARTUZ leader was being held by State security agents.

"When Ndawana was abducted, he was quizzed on the following: where our union gets its funding, the number of meetings we hold, our total membership and our views with regard to the incumbent government, among other petty questions," he said.

"Let it be known by the State that our union is not a terrorist grouping and is duly registered according to the laws of this country. If the State wants any information from us, they must simply walk into our offices and kindly ask. We have nothing to hide."

Masaraure declared ARTUZ's "Pockets Out" campaign would go ahead tomorrow.


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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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