Teachers’ unions on Monday dismissed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s promise to reintroduce free basic education in public schools in 2023 as a hopeless campaign gimmick.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said his Government will provide universal free education starting next year. He wrote:
The government will push for phased access to universal free education wholly funded by the State.
We must make primary education free and universal next year, in 2023.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure told NewsDay that State-funded education was already a constitutional mandate, which Mnangagwa had failed to implement since 2018. Said Masaraure:
The provision of State-funded education is a constitutional obligation on the shoulder of every government of the day.
The politician in Mnangagwa should not appear to be doing anyone a favour by promising to move in that direction, his government should be ashamed for failing to adhere to the Education Act and section 75 of the Constitution.
Zimbabwe Teachers Union (ZTU) chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said:
We raise the question of commitment which demands a practical and pragmatic approach to achieving these earmarked developments on the part of the government.
We also wonder how this is going to be achieved when the government is failing to pay its workers reasonable salaries.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said Mnangagwa has failed to prioritise education. Said Gwede:
If the allocation of resources to education was prioritised, free primary and secondary education would have been achieved as part of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Another political analyst Effie Ncube Mnangagwa’s pledge is merely a campaign gimmick. He said:
Although free education is desirable and necessary, it is not sustainable in an economy that is in a vegetative state and bleeding under the weight of corruption and mismanagement.
Therefore, for ZANU PF, which has been in power for 42 years, this is another electioneering gimmick.
President Mnangagwa also promised free education during the run-up to the 2018 general elections but he has failed to fulfil the promise with his first term in office drawing to an end.