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Zimbabwean School Reopening Delayed By Violence Against Teachers

Many primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe failed to open Tuesday for the new term as returning teachers met with intimidation and violence by ZANU-PF militants waging a campaign of violence in retribution for setbacks in March elections.

Sources said torture centers have been set up at some schools, in particular in the provinces of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Manicaland which were once ZANU-PF strongholds but where rural inhabitants shifted electoral loyalties to strip ZANU-PF of its long-held parliamentary majority.

Sources in the region said teachers and residents are being beaten on a daily basis.

Sources in the affected areas said ZANU-PF youth militia have virtually taken over the homes of teachers, even to the extent of using their utensils and linen.

Teachers in Zimbabwe's towns and cities have also failed to report for duty due to the soaring transport costs which eat up much if not most of salaries.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has told the government that it must protect teachers or it will stage a "solidarity action" or strike. The union is demanding a net monthly salary for starting teacher of Z$18 billion or some US$180 a month.

Progressive Teachers Union General Secretary Raymond Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that schools should not have opened before the results of the presidential election were released.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe said Saturday that his panel would complete its presidential tally on Monday and then call in candidates and their agents for "validation" of the results, but such meetings are still awaited, as are the results of the presidential ballot held one month ago.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...