Zimbabwean schools opened for a new term on Tuesday amid threats of a strike by teachers over meager salaries and a hostile working environment in which they find themselves targeted by police and agents of national security services.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou said police surveillance and harassment of teachers "surpasses our understanding,” adding that his union is considering a new strike to remedy such grievances.
Elsewhere, state and private schools were said to be turning away pupils who had not paid tuition fees in advance for the second term of the year.
Union leader Zhou said the national unity government has failed to address the plight of teachers who have lost their respected position in society as schools have been over by militants of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party who have targeted teachers who they suspect of supporting parties in opposition to Mr. Mugabe.
Zhou said teachers hope the government in the next few weeks will urgently address their longstanding issues and avoid an industrial action that he says would undermine an education system which is still on the road to recovery after near collapse in 2008.
"The inclusive government has for the past years engaged in reckless gambling rather than address the plight of the workers," Zhou declared.
"Teachers have experienced a systematic psychological degradation as politicians engaged in political rhetoric rather than addressing their plight. Their patience has been overstretched and will not accept any further historical revisionism in which those in power forget the truth or are constantly guilty of selective forgetfulness."
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Emmanuel Nyawo said instructors are tired of empty promises from politicians and will not be deterred from striking in June.