By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
14 April 2014
A primary school that was set up last year as an election campaign gimmick by ZANU PF officials in Chimanimani was shut down without warning, leaving many students stranded and unable to transfer to other schools.
Chimanimani activist Peter Chanetsa told SW Radio Africa that Westward Hall Primary School in ward 14, which was founded by controversial white ZANU PF supporter Joshua Sacco, was ordered to be closed by the local District Administrator and Ministry of Education in early February.
As reported on SW Radio Africa last year, the school operated without being registered and without a curriculum, using unqualified teachers chosen for their support of ZANU PF. The fake teachers allegedly taught ZANU PF party philosophy and liberation war songs.
Chanetsa said Westward is located on property once owned by Border Timbers, which was illegally invaded by ZANU PF supporters who settled there. Sacco and his ZANU PF rival Samuel Undenge promised them security from eviction and promoted the school during the campaign period.
But the district administrator and the education ministry refused to register the primary school when the new term started in January and ordered the teachers to shut it down with immediate effect. The parents received no support from ZANU PF and their children were abandoned by the school.
“Undenge won the election as MP and has been in Harare since July. Sacco has not been involved since he lost the primary election and lost interest. As a result the students had no legal transfer letters to go other schools. Those in grade seven could not write exams,” Chanetsa explained.
Hoping to save their school, the children organized a demonstration at the district administrator’s offices in late February, but they were ignored. Having spent the whole day without food, they walked more than 15kilometres back home to ward 14 Chimanimani.
MP Undenge, who is also the Deputy Minister for Economic Planning, has not intervened to save the school since its closure in February.
Udenge is not known for his care of children. He was involved in a divorce case back in 2009, when he reportedly refused to pay school fees for his own children at a school in Harare.
White farmer Joshua Sacco has links to top political leaders. He was once described by Robert Mugabe as being the last white man standing in ZANU PF.