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'Teachers For ED' indictment on unions' weaknesses and failure in addressing teachers' plight

20 Oct 2022 at 18:27hrs | Views
Let us not delude and deceive ourselves.

There were no teachers who suddenly had a 'patriotism' epiphany - waking up one day, fallen head over heals in love with Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and realizing that he was a great leader after all, who deserved to be supported and appreciated.

No, not at all!

If those thousands of educators gathered in Harare yesterday, under the auspices of the so-called 'Teachers For ED' were anything to go by, and be believed - then, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Of course, no one can say with any certainty that those in attendance were genuine teachers - as the ruling ZANU PF is notorious for forcing people into attending its rallies where their president is officiating, and those could have easily been party youths, or other functionaries.

Nonetheless, it would be grossly foolhardy for anyone to conclude that this 'Teachers For ED' is bereft of any significant following - and, the question should be, 'why'.

Why do we today, seemingly overnight, witness a group of apparently educated and enlightened educators opting to sell their souls to, and sup with, the devil - having no qualms at all associating and aligning themselves with a blood-thirsty regime that has callously authored not only their (teachers) own miserable plight, but also the deplorable poverty and suffering of millions of ordinary Zimbabweans?

What is truly going on here - whereby, instead of fighting for better working and living conditions (being paid living and dignified salaries deserving of the honorable teaching profession), we find some who appear to have given up, and thrown in their lot with their oppressors, in exchange for crumbs from the opulent table of power?

Are these men and women, whom we have entrusted to instill knowledge and inculcate life skills in our children, the unmitigated dimwits that they may seem at first glance?

Anyone who thinks like that is the true dimwit.

No one can deny that Zimbabweans are, and have been, facing intolerable economic hardships for far too long - and, have been desperately awaiting a 'messiah' to rescue them from this insufferable hellhole, and lead them into a land of plenty, of milk and honey.

Nevertheless, such a 'savior' has been disturbingly evasive and missing.

Let us look at teachers themselves.

They, as to be understandable, placed their hope and faith in their unions to be their Moses - to take them to the 'promised land' of living wages, which are in tandem with people of the stature and honor as our teachers.

Yet, what has the nation observed in utter disbelief and dismay?

Our teachers' unions - extending to the rest of the general labor sector - have been infested with deep divisions that have effectively rendered them ineffectual, useless and toothless bulldogs.

In spite of the regular noises, mostly confined to the media space, there has hardly been anything of substance noticeable on the ground that places meaningful pressure on the authorities - thereby, giving them sleepless nights, forcing seriousness on their part, in heeding teachers' demands.

We have witnessed threats after threat of collective job action - but, with seldom any visible active mobilization on the ground, with leaders leading from the front.

Instead, we have had keyboard leaders - who prefer merely issuing statements and holding endless meetings, without any real discernible force buttressing revolutionary action.

Except for a handful of union leaders who are prepared to lead from the front, and ready to face the expected brutal response of the ruling establishment - having been arrested numerous times for their bold activism, languished in prison as repeatedly denied bail, and even subjected to barbaric violent attacks - basically, teachers' leaders have been a docile lot, rather choosing taking the cautious approach.

However, the cautious approach has never moved an arrogant and self-conceited repressive regime - but, in fact, works right into their script.

Very few labor leaders - most of whom living rather comfortably on donor funding - are prepared to lose that 'soft life' simply for the sake of fulfilling what they are mandated and paid to do.

No meaningful successful revolutions have ever been waged from the comfort of one's home, office or hotel (the favorite venue for most activists, for meetings and workshops).

Revolutions are conducted on the ground, in the trenches, fraught with risks and dangers.

If one is an activist in an oppressive and brutal society as Zimbabwe, and feels safe and comfortable - then, in all likelihood, they are not doing what they are expected to be doing.

That leaves thousands of their constituents wallowing in appalling destitution, yet with no one coming to their aid - opening the door wide open for wolves to waltz in, offering to spare (or even benefit) those sheep pleading loyalty to them (wolves).

Enter 'Teachers For ED'!

There is absolutely nothing shocking seeing thousands of deprived and impoverished teachers jumping into bed with the same people who orchestrated their misery - on account of feeling helpless and hopeless, and the only light coming from their own oppressors.

Ironic, yes - but, perfectly understandable when individuals have reached rock bottom in their suffering.

It would not matter who offers a starving person that desperately needed morsel to eat - even if it is the one who caused his hunger, in the first place - such an offer will be gratefully received.

I am sure that is what is referred to as the Stockholm Syndrome.

There comes a time when those struggling for their rights and a better life, come to a dark place of hopelessness - as it appears there will never be any positive change any time soon - such that they end up simply taking whatever is on offer, even if that means selling one's soul to the devil.

Indeed, I know how that feels - especially, for someone like myself, who lives in need and lack, since I do not have any donor assistance, without receiving any financial support for my fight for a dignified and decent life for all Zimbabweans.

In my poverty it becomes easy - in the midst of what appears a lost cause, with a population that is not willing to stand up for themselves - to ask myself, "surely, what am I suffering like this for?"

That is why we then witness those who appear to have sold out the struggle - as they would have reached a point of despair, in suffering for a cause that does not seem to be going anywhere - thereby, either giving up, or accepting 'offers for a better life' even from those we should be fighting.

As such, before rushing into attacking the rank and file of this 'Teachers For ED" - who were driven by desperation and despair - we need to ask ourselves, "for how long were they expected to wallow in poverty, whilst those entrusted with advocating their cause are themselves compromised in their fear in bravely confronting the oppressive regime"?

Is that not the reason most ordinary Zimbabweans are unwilling going onto the streets to courageously and peacefully demand our rights, and calling out our ruthless leaders - as we would only be thinking of our own need to survive and preserve our lives, at the expense of the broader citizenry?

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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