Members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise pressure group Friday marched to the offices of the Ministry of Education in Harare demanding free education for their kids, almost 24 hours after staging a similar protest in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo.
More than 300 placard-carrying demonstrators handed a petition to the ministry’s permanent secretary, Sylvia Masango, demanding that the government should introduce free education.
Section 27 of the Zimbabwe Constitution stipulates that the state must take all practical measures to promote free and compulsory basic education for children and compulsory education and higher and tertiary education.
WOZA coordinator, Jenni Williams, said children must not be asked to pay school fees because education is a right that is enshrined in the new national constitution adopted in 2013.
She said WOZA members had taken a decision to stop paying fees for their children with immediate effect, adding that they would approach the Constitutional Court if the government does not address their concerns.
Education officials were not immediately available for comment.
In a related development, another demonstrator, Benhilda Mutuvha, said it was worrisome that the education sector was not growing despite parents contributing over $100 million in schools fees every year.
Masango told Studio 7 that she would forward the petition to Education Minister Lazarus Dokora, who said he would only comment after reading the petition.
At the same time, the Dzamara family and friends petitioned Unicef on Friday over the organization’s recent statement that children should not be used in protests. This, after children of missing activist Itai Dzamara were part of the protests held last week over Dzamara’s abduction by suspected state security agents in March last year.
Dzamara’s brother, Patson, who submitted the petition to Unicef’s country representative Reza Hossaini together with Itai’s wife, Shefra, and two children, said they would continue to protest against Unicef until it retracts its statement.
Tajamuka Sesijile Campaign members also petitioned Unicef on Thursday over the same issue. Unicef officials declined to comment.