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RIOT police yesterday barricaded Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora’s offices as hordes of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) protesters tried to hand over to him a petition demanding free education.
Several police officers in riot gear watched as the placard-waving women sang denouncing failure by the government to make primary education free.
Woza said according to international human rights standards, the government had an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to education.
The lobby group said the government had signed the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, under which it had two years to make education free in the country.
“Twenty-five years later, the state of education has gone backwards showing bad faith. Additionally, budget allocations for defence are prioritised over that of educating our children. Government is not at all serious about its obligations to provide free primary education, but instead of suing the government, we are boycotting paying fees and levies with immediate effect,” Woza’s demands read.
Speakers denounced the government’s reluctance to ensure that all children access education with ease.
Woza leader Jenni Williams said the government should find ways of financing education.
“If they say they don’t have money to pay for free education, we will tell them to look for the $15 billion diamond revenue that they could not account for,” she said.
Among other demands, Woza said the government must cancel all primary school debts, punish school heads and teachers who discriminate pupils by chasing those who cannot pay school fees and also improve existing school infrastructure.
Woza also demanded tertiary fees to fall by 2017.
Meanwhile, the family of missing activist Itai Dzamara, including his children, yesterday handed over a petition to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) over its decision to criticise the participation of children in commemorating 17 months since their father was abducted.
Led by Dzamara’s brother, Patson, the family said Unicef erred, as it failed to correctly capture the involvement of children at the meeting.
“Itai has been missing for 17 months now. His two young children have routinely accompanied their mother, Sheffra Dzamara, to various events and commemorations calling for the return of their father,” Patson’s petition read.
“It is bizarre that Unicef has not chosen to comment on this dynamic so far, yet chooses to comment in response to an occasion that stumped a brutal and criminal police riot squad, but makes no mention of the fact that any danger the children were in emanated from the police.
“And no word of condemnation to a police force that chooses to send armed police against peaceful, law-abiding citizens, including children! Not a word about the infant that was rushed to hospital the previous Wednesday as a result of that same police unit tear-gassing a closed shop, or the infant in Bulawayo that died on July 6 as a result of police action,” the petition read.
On Thursday, members of Tajamuka also staged a demonstration at Unicef offices. Some activists also said Unicef was silent on children who were being dragged to attend Zanu PF rallies. This comes as a picture of Zanu PF commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, seemingly teaching a Grade Zero child to chant a Zanu PF slogan, has gone viral. source-newsday
Photo-Riot police stand guard at the MDC-T and ZimPF joint demonstration against President Robert Mugabe’s misrule in Gweru on Saturday. source-newsday