Thursday, April 30, 2015

Civil servants are a key pawn in the politics of Zimbabwe

H.E. Mugabe. photo credit telegraph.co.uk
I had hoped to write about women's issues this week but unfortunately the discord between President Mugabe and his ministers just sucks. And it sucked me in too.
The executive government of Zimbabwe, meaning the president and his ministers, has unequivocally been relegated to a chicken and egg debate. Which is which?

How is it that the President was not informed about the now reversed temporary scrapping of civil servants bonuses? Is he not supposed to sanction such high level decisions first? My mind is littered with questions. And I am also embarrassed.

I had laughed so hard at the civil servants and had hoped to laugh all the way to 2017. Yes I did. I had even penned an article called, Civil servants we told you, in which I had reminded civil servants that they are the ones who voted in their droves in the 2013 elections famous for the Zanu pf ''landslide'' victory. Furthermore, I had noted that it was interesting that the issue of bonuses was going to be reviewed in 2017 just before the 2018 elections.

Forgive my penchant for conspiracy theories but this one is driven by logic rather than ignorance.

The coercion of civil servants to vote for the ruling party is an open secret in Zimbabwe. I will add allegedly to that statement, just in case.
Helsinki University Professor Laakso Liisa in her paper "Opposition Politics in Independent Zimbabwe" African Studies Quarterly 7, wrote, ''...As in early 1990s, the (Zimbabwe) government … argued that civil servants should be loyal to the ruling party''.
I agree with Professor Laakso although I would replace the word 'argued' with 'demanded'.
Therefore, we should all have laughed at the civil servants because they have played a pivotal role in helping the Zanu pf government to resist change.
In fact, we could spin this statement to say they have aided the quashing of political pluralism in Zimbabwe.

Stephen Chan and Ranka Primorac in their book, Zimbabwe Since the Unity Government, point out that ''an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have left the country''
This observation is critical in asserting why we should all have laughed at civil servants. Because, people, these 3 million Zimbabweans arguably form the majority of those opposed to Zanu Pf rule. This logic is obviously derived from the fact that the MDCT, the only party that has staged the biggest challenge to monopoly rule by Zanu Pf since independence, was born from the ZCTU labour movement.
Having said that, it is only logical to assume that the opposition cornerstone is the labour force of the country. In my opinion, Zanu Pf did little to rig the elections in 2013 for the simple reason that this major enlightened support base of the MDCT is no longer in the country and are disenfranchised from voting.
This leaves the majority of voters being composed mainly of civil servants, vendors and the rural populace.

Civil servants are therefore a key pawn in the politics of Zimbabwe. They are key in that they constitute a large part of the educated Zimbabweans, remaining in the country, with capacity to vote but their vote is neither neutral nor objective. It is partisan.
The other large part of voters is the rural populace whom we see being brainwashed with partisan allocation of government empowerment schemes such as the farming inputs scheme.
Sadly, the MDCT and its other gang of opposition political parties are not wise enough to see that they did not win elections because the people who would vote for them are outside the country's borders and the ones (read civil servants) with capacity to vote are in the pocket of the Zanu pf government.
The ruling party's renewed stranglehold on power is now primarily because of two things in my opinion, the coercion and intimidation of civil servants to continue voting for Zanu Pf and the partisan distribution of government incentives in the rural areas.
The President's panic about the civil servants bonus debacle is thus understandable even though I'm inclined to see the logic behind Chinamasa's reversed decision; there is simply no money to pay those bonuses. However, the President could not help but grandstand against that logical decision because civil servants aid his retention of power, allegedly.
My apologies, conspiracy theories get the better of me don't they.

I will end here by reminding Zimbabweans that for change to happen in Zimbabwe, civil servants must make a conscious decision to stand with other sane Zimbabweans who have made the right decision to challenge the status quo through the ''secret'' ballot.

And to you civil servants; as you go to hospitals and die because there are no drugs, or as you now send your children to worthless private schools, or as your recently graduated children leave to go and work in restaurants and be killed in South Africa because of your Zanu Pf government; don't ever say we didn't tell you this.

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