By Christine Chiromo
A new teachers’ union, the Educators Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) has been formed by disgruntled teachers of the Teachers Can’t Breathe (TCB) movement following the movements’ initial mandate being a failure in executing their grievances of representing teachers.
EUZ’s leadership accuses its counterparts in other unions ZIMTA, PTUZ of using the plight of teachers to advance their political agendas.
The interim President of EUZ, Tafadzwa Munodawafa said the new union was for teachers which was brought to life by the teachers themselves after they realized that it was time to represent themselves instead of delegating this duty.
“EUZ was born out of the teachers can’t breathe movement which saw teachers resisting going to work for 8 weeks until we were let down by unions. That was when we decided to have our own union that was more concerned about our suffering and is prepared to back us legally as teachers.
“This new union is different because of the way that we came to being. Meetings have been happening from the time we were earning $540 until they spiraled down to $35 meaning the sitting with employers in itself is not a genuine act. It’s a betrayal to us and the profession as a whole.
“As EUZ we are different because we are not aligned to either the employer or any other political parties, we are a pure labour movement. “
The National Interim executive of EUZ comprises of President Tafadzwa Munodawafa from Mat North, Vice President Tapedza Zhou from Harare, Vice President Molly Banda from Gweru , Secretary General Justin Murema from Manicaland, Vice Secretary General Thando Bhebhe from Mat South and Treasurer Augustine Kahari from Mash Central. This structure is responsible primarily for the recruitment of members of the union and to usher in the leadership when conditions allow.
In a state of the union address by interim vice president of the EUZ, Tapedza Zhou, said since the EUZ formation, he got calls from some unions and EUZ members to be part of coalitions like Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Union (FOZEU) have been received.
“It took us only a month, from 15 February to 15 March 2021 to build up a strong following which has now above 3 000 teachers and we have a target of 15 000 members by December 2021. This follows the reality that we have over 70 000 teachers who do not subscribe to any union. It is hoped that teachers will come together in their large numbers to empower themselves.
“As a result, we have become the third strongest union of teachers to ever exist in Zimbabwe. We don’t celebrate this ranking as an achievement for we are not out to compete against anyone. We just celebrate this large turn out as a turning point to the teachers’ fight for emancipation and as a heed to the clarion call of speaking with one voice before our employer.
Munodawafa addressed the frequently asked question that EUZ was now the 10th union as some are concerned with the weakening of the teachers’ united voice through mushrooming of yellow unions.
“It’s naive to believe that before EUZ was formed, we already had 9 unions in the teaching landscape since that number simply includes some which are unions in name. We are therefore not the 10th union, rather, we are the third teachers’ union ever to exist in Zimbabwe. Our existence will be a game changer and it has already begun to move towards this trajectory. We recognize the existence of two strong unions before us, whose preoccupation with political responsibilities created the vacuum that we want to fill today.”