THE ruling Zanu PF party has been accused of disrupting educational activities around the country after ministers ordered schools to handover buses for the so-called ‘million-men march’ planned for Wednesday.
Party youths will march in Harare Wednesday in support of the 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe who was, over the past week, away in Singapore with his family following the birth of his grandson.
The demonstration appears to be a response to the recent jobs protest staged in the capital by opposition MDC-T leader and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
It is also suspected to be directed at a ruling faction said to be fed up with Mugabe who refuses to step down even as he struggles with failing health and other challenges that come with old age.
The march has been widely condemned by opposition parties which say it is incredible that the ruling party is celebrating its ruinous three-decade-plus stranglehold on power since independence in 1980.
Mugabe denies responsibility for Zimbabwe’s problems, blaming instead Western countries he claims are seeking to recolonise the southern African nation.
Meanwhile the broke ruling party has reportedly ordered schools to supply buses to help ferry the marchers to Harare for the event.
School heads in Kwekwe told NewZimbabwe.com that the district education officer, only identified as ED Sibanda, told them that education minister Lazarus Dokora issued a directive ordering schools to surrender buses to the ruling party.
“Some school heads raised the issue of payment of allowances for drivers and fuel but they were told to find the money,” said a source who asked not to be named.
The allegations could not be verified with Dokora last night.
Elsewhere in Chimanimani, energy minister and Zanu (PF) Manicaland province chairperson was also said to have ordered all local boarding schools to releases their buses for the march.
Teachers and School Development Association (SDA) committee members who spoke to New Zimbabwe.com confirmed said Undenge, who is also Chimanimani East legislator, phoned headmasters of the affected schools ordering them to make buses available for the march.
According to reliable sources, schools affected by Undenge’s order include the United Baptist Church (UBC) run Biriiri and Rusitu mission schools, Roman Catholic run St Charles and the United Methodist Church run Mutambara High School.
Undenge, on Monday, personally visited our school and ordered that we release our bus for Mugabe‘s march,” said a teacher at Biriiri high school who refused to be named for fear of victimization.
“We tried to argue with him that the school cannot release the bus without the consent of the parents who are the owners of the bus but he (Undenge) stressed that no one could challenge him since he is the Zanu (PF) chairperson for the province.”
The sources said Undenge also ordered the schools to foot fuel costs for the buses and allowances for drivers.
“This order is going to be a burden to our school,” said an SDA member at Rusitu mission school who also refused to be named fearing victimisation.
“What it means is that we are going to use students’ school fees to buy fuel for the buses as well as pay allowances for the bus drivers.
“The other challenge is that the buses are only insured to carry students. Now who will compensate us in the event of an accident?”
Opposition parties have urged Zimbabweans to join the march and use the occasion to demand Mugabe’s immediate retirement.
“In the 36 years that he (Mugabe) has been at the helm of the country, Zimbabwe has regressed from being a country moving towards a middle income economy into one of the poorest in the world, competing for the poorest nation gong with war torn countries such as Somalia,” said the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement.
“In 36 years of Mugabe’s indolent leadership, Zimbabwe has moved from being the bread basket of Africa to becoming a basket case.
“Three decades of independence has produced a nation with 91% unemployment with 83% of its people living on less than US$1.25 per day.”
The Tsvangirai-led MDC-T party added: “Instead of massaging the personal ego of the man who has caused the pauperisation of millions of Zimbabweans by staging a totally puerile, purposeless and wasteful so-called million men march …
“ … the Zanu PF regime or whichever of its factions is organizing and funding this thoroughly discredited march, should actually be staging a march to publicly apologise to Zimbabweans for ruining and destroying a country that used to be the bread basket of Southern Africa.
“They should also be staging a march to call upon Robert Mugabe and his clueless and corrupt regime to immediately step down from office in order to save the people of Zimbabwe from further suffering.”