BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZIMBABWE’s top civil servants are undergoing indoctrination lessons under the ruling Zanu PF’s school of ideology amid claims that the training will be cascaded to the rank and file of the public service.
The Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology which exhibited under the Zanu PF stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) was first mooted after the country gained Independence from British colonial rule in 1980.
A push to operationalise the college gathered momentum in 2016 to allegedly instil a sense of patriotism and understanding of Zanu PF’s ideology by civil servants and others, who did not participate in the liberation struggle.
In 2016, a resolution was passed by Zanu PF that no candidate would represent the party in national elections without passing through the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology.
This publication gathered that top civil servants, including directors in ministries have undergone the indoctrination lessons modelled under the controversial national youth service, the difference being that there is no “military-type” training.
“It’s on course (training of civil servants at the school of ideology).
“Currently, directors in ministries have gone through that already,” a Cabinet minister confirmed yesterday.
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Chitepo was chairperson of the war council of Zanu during the liberation war.
He was assassinated on March 18, 1975 in Lusaka in a car bomb and the mystery surrounding his death remains unresolved.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa was not available for comment while her deputy Kindness Paradza referred The Standard to Zanu PF for official comment.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu referred The Standard to the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology principal Munyaradzi Machacha, who confirmed the indoctrination lessons.
“It’s basic orientation for about five days although we have other customised courses for different groups and institutions to address their specific needs,” Machacha said.
“We have done the basic orientation courses in ministries, parastatals and in the Zanu PF structures.”
Machacha went on to say opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members, including their leader Nelson Chamisa must undergo the indoctrination lessons to inculcate a culture of patriotism in them.
“The school is really a national heritage school where we treat every citizen equally regardless of political affiliation,” he said.
“If Chamisa were to come, we would put him through the same course to teach him patriotism and national conscience and to defend Zimbabwe’s national interest, which is lacking in our opposition who hero-worship our colonial masters and want the same to come and superintend over us.
“We wish every citizen to come and join this course and have a national belief system that makes us all unite in defence of our national interest.”
Machacha denied charges that the courses were partisan, in favour of the ruling party.
“Chitepo is not a party institution, but a national heritage school detached from the ruling party,” he said.
However, unions representing civil servants on Friday condemned the indoctrination lessons as unconstitutional and partisan.
“It is very unfortunate that the Zanu PF government continues to manipulate our civil servants, forcing them to participate in training that is clearly partisan.
“We condemn such acts, which really violate the constitution of our people and the fundamental rights of the civil servants,” Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said.
“We still have an inherent right of freedom of association and assembly. We can’t be forcing people to associate with the ruling party against their will.
“If we force them to be partisan, we are then dividing an already divided nation.”
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou weighed in, saying there is nothing national about the Chitepo School of Ideology.
“It is a Zanu PF ideological college and not at all national. Anything that is partisan must be resisted by all level-headed Zimbabweans, and as teachers and civil servants, we don’t see any need to be affiliated to any political party,” Zhou said.
“The whole aspect of trying to send civil servants to an ideological college is the issue of propaganda, propagating propaganda so that civil servants parrot a political party propaganda.
“That in itself is not enviable, and we will resist that by all means necessary.”
In October 2021, the government attracted criticism from unions representing nurses after proposing to introduce patriotism and induction modules for health workers.
The proposed modules were meant to cover public health service orientation, which speaks to national heritage and patriotism among others.
In the recent past, there were plans to have civil service jobs reserved for youths who went through the notorious Border Gezi national youth service (NYS).
The NYS programme, launched by the late Youth minister Border Gezi in 2001, was introduced with the aim of drilling revolutionary and patriotic ideologies into the country’s young citizens.