Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 08:56 GMT

Education under Attack 2010 - Zimbabwe

Publisher UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Publication Date 10 February 2010
Cite as UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Education under Attack 2010 - Zimbabwe, 10 February 2010, available at: [accessed 19 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On 10 September 2007, police assaulted and arrested three leaders of the Students Representative Council at the Great Zimbabwe University.771 On 11 March 2007, 26 students from Seke Teachers College, led by a general council member of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), Mehluli Dube (who was also the Student Representative Council vice president of National University of Science and Technology), were arrested in Chitungwiza on their way to a prayer meeting at which opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Artur Mutambara were arrested and one participant was killed.

On 13 March 2007, Promise Mkwananzi, Beloved Chiweshe and Lynnett Mudehwe, student leaders belonging to ZINASU, were arrested while rallying students to march for the release of opposition, civil society and student leaders in detention in Zimbabwe. Some 37 students were in detention at the time.772

Throughout 2008, there were reports of attacks on teachers and teacher trade unionists, including arrests, incarcerations, assassinations and threats of violence. The situation in rural schools in particular was described as a "war zone", with reports of militias moving from school to school, chasing teachers away and, in some cases, taking over the school. The perpetrators were mostly "Green Bombers", drawn from youth or war veterans associated with the ruling party, ZANU-PF.773

On 14 February 2008, two leaders of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, Macdonald Mangauzani and Raymond Majongwe, were arrested at a primary school in Harare. The PTUZ had been on strike since 5 February. Mangauzani, 37, was tortured by police in custody; after his release the next evening, his health deteriorated and he died on 27 May 2008. He had been arrested 19 times before. Majongwe, who was released on the same day, fled into hiding. In April 2008, he learned his name was on a list of people to be eliminated. In September, he received several death threats by telephone and the union's head office was ransacked.774

Eleven local PTUZ leaders were taken in for questioning at the beginning of February. Teachers on strike from three schools in Glen Norah, a suburb of Harare, were beaten and several were forced to eat chalk by police.775

In Muzorori School, near Harare, the principal was beaten in front of students.776

In May 2008, two teachers were reportedly beaten to death in Guruve Province, northern Zimbabwe, reportedly by ZANU-PF militia.777 Following widespread assaults on teachers, 9,000 failed to report for work on the first day of term.778 Teachers who ran as candidates for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the March 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections were targeted, and more than a hundred polling officials, most of them teachers, were arrested or kidnapped, according to Human Rights Watch.779

On 5 June 2008, the body of Sheperd Chegwu, principal of Katsukunya Secondary School in Mutoko District, was found by his colleagues. He had been kidnapped two days earlier, and his body bore marks consistent with torture.780

On 13 June 2008, two teachers and a principal were kidnapped from three different schools: K. Ndoro, a teacher at Vengere High School, Chitombo, a teacher at Dumbamwe Secondary School, and Hamadziripi, headteacher of Nyahukwe Primary School.781

On 14 June 2008, Simbarashe Chikomba, a teacher at Zaka Secondary School in Zaka District, was kidnapped from his home and found dead the next day.782

Education International reports that PTUZ leaders and members were assaulted or abducted nearly every day in June 2008. An estimated 100 polling officers, most of them teachers and some of them principals, were detained. The Student Solidarity Trust alleges that seven teachers were killed while 60 others were harassed and tortured in 2008, many of them between the time of the elections and the presidential run-off on 27 June.783 Teachers were also illegally detained, "disappeared" and abducted by armed groups or state security forces, or had their homes burned.784 Three teachers interviewed in a documentary for the American Federation of Teachers testified to being beaten, one of them with iron rods and logs, and two of them were sexually abused violently.785 Teachers' unions estimated that at least 1,700 teachers had fled the country to escape the violence.786

On 3 December 2008, 14 teacher union leaders and members were detained in response to protests against the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.787 PTUZ General Secretary Raymond Majongwe, National Coordinator Oswald Madziwa and President Takavafira Zhou were among those arrested in Harare, Masvingo, Buluwayo and Gweru.788

Also in 2008, there were reports of schools being used as bases for the Green Bombers (ZANU-PF youth militia), and other state forces.789

Students were similarly targeted during the election period. According to University World News, by 11 May 2008, nearly 50 students had been arrested, 15 tortured, ten expelled and two given death threats in the run-up to and during Zimbabwe's chaotic elections. The Student Solidarity Trust alleged in its April report that 17 students – ten from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), six from Bindura University of Science and Technology and one from Great Zimbabwe University – were arrested for protesting against the election result. It said the ten students arrested at NUST were "tortured and assaulted by police".790 The Student Solidarity Trust also reported that 85 student activists were abducted, arrested or assaulted by security forces in 2008.791

The field activities of all NGOs, including those involved in education were banned for a long period in 2008. NGO members were persecuted and forced to close down their field operations. The ban included UN agencies.

Human Rights Watch reported in June 2009 that up to 300 children were being forced by soldiers of Zimbabwe's army to work in the diamond fields instead of going to school.792

In July 2009, Raymond Majongwe expressed concern on behalf of the PTUZ that high-ranking military officials had been appointed to the Ministry of Education and youth militia members were demanding offices in every school. They posted "youth coordinators" at schools, and demanded the establishment of youth councillors who report back to the youth militia about problems at the school. Some youth militia centres were running history clubs at schools.793 Teachers said the setting up of militia bases at schools left them in fear of their lives.794

In October 2009, Takavafira Zhou, president of the PTUZ, said three schools a day reported threats and beatings by ZANU-PF members and youth militia. On 21 October, 15 teachers were rounded up and beaten. In Gutu, youth training centres had been set up where youths were forced by ZANU-PF members to do military drills. Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) members were touring schools and interrogating staff in a campaign of "systematic targeting and intimidation" of teachers.795

In October 2009, 200 youths, aged 14 to 15, missed school at Dimbe, Dhirihori and Masikana Schools in Chief Svosve area to undergo semi-military training with the auxiliary police at Rudhaka stadium. The training included practising military drills and shouting war cries. Some of them were reportedly forced to attend. Several local residents expressed fears that the children were being readied for use as a political terror machine.796

In a separate report, the PTUZ said youth militias had set up initiation camps at schools in Masvingo Province to train schoolchildren and teachers in ZANU-PF philosophy and to chant party slogans. In the same province, it was reported that some education officials had been hounded out of their schools and houses for supporting the Movement for Democratic Change.797

Also in October 2009, youth militia were deployed to schools with war veterans to force striking teachers to return to work. They told teachers to leave the area if they did not want to work.798

The youth militia were reported to be heavily involved in the violence and intimidation of opponents of Robert Mugabe in the 2008 election and are salaried civil servants. Since then, they are reported to have carried out beatings, torture and harassment of teachers.

School leavers faced compulsory national youth service training, also known as youth militia training from 2003 to 2007, aimed at people aged 10 to 30. Several thousand young people were given 120 days' training in paramilitary skills and political education, and allegedly torture and killing techniques. Trainees were also sent to kill political opponents of Robert Mugabe, according to a camp commander. It was reported that girls were repeatedly raped by trainees and other staff. Youth militias were used to harass political opposition and enforce government measures such as price reductions in the supermarkets. Killings, torture, rape and destruction of property by ZANU-PF youth militias continued up until the end of 2007.799

Compulsory national service was introduced in January 2003 in a manner that undermined equity in the education system. The Minister of Higher Education, Samuel Mumbengegwi, announced that no students leaving high school would be given their A- or O-level certificates until they had completed six months' service. In November 2002, circulars were sent to all tertiary institutions informing that admission preference had to be given to youth militia and that no letters of admission would be sent to ordinary applicants until each institution had been sent an official list of militia who had to be given first priority. At the same time there was only a capacity to train 20,000 of the 300,000 school leavers.800 In November 2009, MPs were told that 80,000 young people had been trained in the militia and 14,000 were currently employed as "youth ward officers".801

[Refworld note: The source report "Education under Attack 2010" was posted on the UNESCO website ( in pdf format, with country chapters run together. Original footnote numbers have been retained here.]

771 NEAR, "Student Leaders Attacked and Detained During University Orientation Week," September 10, 2007.

772 NEAR, "Student Leaders Arrested," March 13, 2007.

773 UNESCO contribution the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Annual Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, A/HRC/12/49 (July 30, 2009).

774 ITUC, 2008 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights.

775 Ibid.

776 Education International, "Zimbabwe: Two Teachers Dead, Three More Missing," June 20, 2008,

777 IRIN News, "Zimbabwe: Schools and Teachers Suffer Post-Election Violence," May 2, 2008, http://

778 Catherine Philp, "Too Scared for School: The Plight of Zimbabwe's Teachers," The Times, May 2, 2008.

779 IRIN News, "Zimbabwe: Schools and Teachers Suffer."

780 Education International, "Zimbabwe: Two Teachers Dead, Three More Missing."

781 Ibid.

782 Ibid.

783 Andrew Moyo, "7 Teachers Killed in Political Violence: Report," July 2, 2009.

784 Ibid.

785 Ingrid Gavshon/Angel Films, Oh My Zimbabwe,

786 BBC News, "Zimbabwe Teachers Threaten Strike," May 5, 2008.

787 Education International, "Zimbabwe: Ten Teachers Released but Four Still Incarcerated," December 4, 2008,

788 Ibid.

789 Information supplied by UNESCO Harare.

790 Clemence Manyukwe, "Zimbabwe: Students Arrested, Tortured, Expelled," University World News, May 11, 2008.

791 Moyo, "7 Teachers Killed in Political Violence."

792 HRW, Diamonds in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe (New York: HRW, 2009), as cited in David Smith, "Children Forced to Mine Zimbabwe Diamonds," The Guardian, June 26, 2009.

793 IRIN News, "Zimbabwe: Political Violence Growing in Rural Areas," July 27, 2009.

794 Mike Makomo, "ZANU PF Sets Up Bases in Schools," The Zimbabwe Telegraph, June 19, 2009.

795 Alex Bell, "Violence Against Teachers on Rise in Rural Areas," SW Radio Africa, October 28, 2009.

796 Taurai Bande, "ZANU Militarise Rural Areas," The Zimbabwean, October 16, 2009.

797 The Zimbabwean, "Zanu (PF), War Vets Terrorise Teachers," October 16, 2009.

798 Tony Saxon, "Zanu Youth Terrorise Teachers," The Zimbabwean, October 7, 2009.

799 IRIN News, "Zimbabwe: Youth Militia Camps May Close, September 6, 2007; Solidarity Peace Trust, National Youth Service Training – "Shaping Youths in a Truly Zimbabwean Manner" (September 5, 2003),; Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, monthly reports,; Hilary Andersson, "Zimbabwe's Torture Training Camps," BBC, February 27, 2004; and BBC One, "Panorama: Secrets of the Camps," February 28, 2004; all as cited in Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008, 371.

800 The Herald, "National Service to Be Compulsory," July 2, 2002, as cited in Solidarity Peace Trust, National Youth Service Training, 20.

801 Lebo Nkatazo, "80,000 Complete Youth Service: Minister," The Zimbabwe Situation, November 24, 2009,

Search Refworld