Zanu PF needs to pass a free and fair election test


Every election in Zimbabwe since the turn of the new millennium, has been fiercely contested, and allegations of rigging have almost always accompanied each and every one of them.

It is difficult to argue against the claim because of the dirty tactics that the ruling Zanu PF has employed in each election cycle over the years.

Along with intimidation and using shadowy groups to intimidate opponents and forcing support from vulnerable individuals, Zanu PF has now moved to targeting civil servants.

In 2019, Zanu PF legislators embarked on a mission to disrupt Parliament business unless opposition MPs endorsed President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This time around, as we await the August 23 election, Zanu PF is at it again, forcing civil servants to undergo training at the Chitepo School of Ideology under the pretence that the training is aimed at imparting patriotism.

The programme is run by shadowy affiliate Zanu PF group Civil Servants TrustED.

Section 200 of the Constitution is explicit on the conduct of civil servant with regards to politics.

In exercising their functions, civil servants are prohibited from furthering the interests or cause of any political party or acting in a partisan manner.

The timing of this programme raises a lot of questions considering that we are heading towards an election and the curriculum is hugely aligned to Zanu PF.

What is of concern is the fact that teachers who are not affiliated to the shadowy group are forced to attend, exposing the ruling party’s desperation to influence voting patterns.

Ideology training is never a bad thing, but targeting a specific section of the civil service and using commandeering tactics to mobilise them raises eyebrows.

If, indeed, it was a programme of national importance it should have been implemented at the appropriate time, and a full programme would have been provided and shared openly. 

There are so many ways to impart knowledge on one’s country and patriotism as the programme’s objectives claim.

In the case of teachers, this can be part of their curriculum during training, so that when they discharge their duties, they will be fully in the picture.

We all know Zanu PF is desperate to win this election, but it must not violate constitutional rights and the freedom of association for civil servants.

Mnangagwa has already departed from his promise, to be a changed leader who promotes democracy and human rights.

If the current programme is anything to go by, he is borrowing from the same script that his predecessor the late Robert Mugabe used.

Zimbabwe has for a long time been tarnished by contested elections and Mnangagwa should take this opportunity to clean the country’s reputation.

August 23 elections presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to salvage itself from the pariah State tag.

But this depends on Mnangagwa’s conduct and attitude towards the process.

Ultimately, this is an acid test for Mnangagwa to prove that he is a reformist and democrat he always claims to be.

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