The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has deployed a team of heavily armed riot police officers at the Midlands State University (MSU) to keep a close eye on disgruntled examiners marking Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) Ordinary Level scripts after they protested over allowances earlier this week.
One examiner has since been arrested and seven have been chased away. Sources said the cops, with AK47 rifles, batons and tear smoke equipment, have set up a 24hr camp on the premises and often make periodic bursts into the marking rooms to threaten the examiners, whom they refer to as sellouts.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) and sources within the university confirmed the development.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said the move could, however, backfire as examiners may decide to sabotage ZIMSEC because of the manner in which they have been treated. He told NewZimbabwe.com:
Anti-riot officers are now camped there, they are forcing examiners to work and that will definitely impact the quality of results.
Examiners are obviously under a lot of stress and having officers to fear will further compound their problems.
The examiners, some of them elderly, were Tuesday reportedly rounded up after deciding to join striking teachers in the middle of their marking schedule.
They cited incapacitation and failure by ZIMSEC to pay them allowances meant for their upkeep in Gweru.
Seven of the examiners are said to have been dismissed after being identified as ring leaders.
According to a source privy to developments, the examiners were even denied meal tickets as a form of punishment for their behaviour.
ZIMSEC promised examiners a US$25 daily allowance for those staying off-campus and US$12 for those on campus but instead paid ZW$9 000 upon arrival to sustain them for 26 to 28 days.
The amount paid translated to about US$2.50 per day.
ZIMSEC spokesperson Nicholette Dlamini said “there are no strikes that have been reported, everyone is at work. I am not aware of anyone who has stopped marking. We have sufficient markers at all our centres and they are currently marking.”