The Minister of Education, David Coltart, who is on record as saying school premises should not be used for political meetings, said the ban does not apply to private schools. “Because this appears to be a private school, I cannot prohibit it from allowing political meetings of this nature. My jurisdiction only extends to government schools.”

Last month, teachers and school authorities at the Biriwiri High School in Chimanimani, a private school run by United Baptist Church, have clashed with Zanu-PF over the political use of the school’s premises by the party.

Senior army and police officers held a party meeting in the school hall, attended by party representatives of all 23 wards in the district. Teachers and school authorities said they were forced by the local party leadership to allow the meeting to be held. “These Zanu-PF meetings are really inconveniencing students and staff,” said a teacher who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

The teacher said Zanu-PF has also demanded to use the school’s boarding facilities the following week for the celebrations to mark the appointment of Monica Mutsvangwa as a Deputy Minister.