Government has dismissed media reports that the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Obert Masaraure was recently abducted from his home and tortured by security agents for recently calling for teachers’ to embark on an industrial action in the country, as false and malicious.
Some local media reported that Masaraure was “bundled into a van and tortured on Wednesday night”.
There are also pictures of Masaraure with his head bandaged and his right arm in a sling that circulating on both social media and local media and also a video in which he is thanking Zimbabweans for their thoughts and prayers.
In an interview yesterday, Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Mr Nick Mangagwa said the wounds that Masaraure had were self-inflicted .
“We have checked with the security services including the police and they do not know anything about that. There is not even a police report that was made. We believe that this was stage-managed to put Zimbabwe in very bad light since Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) have launched a formal political dialogue process,” he said.
“The police did not do it (abduct him), the intelligence did not do it. He inflicted the bruises on himself to give a bad picture about the Government after he had called for a strike that was not successful.
“It does not mean it’s the State that inflicted the bruises on him, the State does not have monopoly on bruises. This has nothing to do with the State, its self-inflicted.”
In some of the pictures, the bruises look very old and in some fresh.
This is not the first time that Masaraure has been involved in controversy.
In December last year, teachers who participated in a march from Mutare to Harare under the banner of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) were in fact promised US$100 each, but were not given the money and were fighting the organisers for tricking them into demonstrating for nothing.
Disgruntled ARTUZ members told The Herald they were promised US$100, each, for marching.
They accused the ARTUZ leadership comprising Masaraure, Dirk Frey and Robson Chere of misappropriating funds. The teachers were given food hampers instead.
Some teachers also questioned the involvement of Citizens Manifesto and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in issues to do with the welfare of rural teachers, which they suspected was meant to access funds meant for the teachers’ welfare under ARTUZ.
They also accused the leadership of ARTUZ of failure to pay allowances to teachers who participated in the demonstration held in Harare on December 20 last year, meant to pressurise the Government to pay civil servants in United States dollars.
ARTUZ leadership were reportedly living lavish lifestyles when members are struggling.
Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) this week launched a formal dialogue process based on Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which governs relations between member states of the African-Carribean-Pacific regions and the EU.
The development is a major realisation of President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement policy which seeks to reintegrate Zimbabwe into the global family of nations.