The Public Service Commission has set out the procedure for participation in political activities by civil servants who intend to stand as candidates for parliamentary and local government elections.
The Public Service Commission is an arm of the Executive, created in terms of Section 202 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe amendment (no 20) Act 2013. This section provides for the establishment and composition of the Public Service Commission.
In a circular released last week, the Commission allows members of the civil service to participate as party candidates in elections upon resignation. Should they fail to win the election, they would also be allowed to reapply for posts in the public service.
“A member of the Public Service who wishes to become a candidate for election to a local authority or has been nominated as a candidate by a political party, political organisation or political movement or declares himself/herself as a candidate for election to Parliament or local authority shall submit, in writing a letter notifying the Commission of his/her intentions. The member shall be deemed to have resigned from the Public
Service with effect from the date that the authority is granted for those seeking election to a local authority.” Section 200 (3) and (4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act, 2013 provides as follows:
“No member of the Civil Service may, in the exercise of their functions act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person.Members of the Civil Service must not be office-bearers of any political party.”
According to the PSC, a member of the public service who wishes to seek election to Parliament shall be deemed to have resigned from the Public Service with effect from the date of acceptance of his nomination by the nomination court.
“A member who submits his/her candidature to a duly constituted Nomination Court and accepted as a candidate for election to Parliament or Local Authority with or without satisfying the procedure outlined in paragraphs 2.2 above shall be deemed to have resigned or retired from the Public Service with immediate effect.”
A person who has ceased to be a member of the Public Service and who fails to secure his/her candidature or fails to be elected to parliament or local authority, may apply in writing to the Commission for reappointment within 30 days after the holding of elections.
“This only applies in cases that the former member shall not have filed an application to have results of the elections reviewed by a court of law.”
The PSC emphasises that a civil servant who has contested, lost and challenged the results in an Electoral Court, may only apply for reappointment to the public service after finalisation of the petition. Former members who have lost in elections may be re-appointed provided a suitable post exists and “subject to such terms and conditions as Commission may fix to an office or post in the Public Service.”
“This Circular cancels and replaces all previous Circulars dealing with participation of members in harmonised elections.”
However, political analyst Oswald Sibanda cast aspersions on the commission’s decision to allow civil servants’ participation in party politics.
“Allowing civil servants to switch into partisan politics and back into public service can be dangerous. There should not be a way back for such civil servants as they are forever associated with a certain party. How can the public have complete confidence in such people? Knowing how polarised we are as a nation, will they be able to discharge their public duties fairly and effectively?”
In the past, the commission has been accused of bias by the opposition which claimed that civil servants who have resigned previously to venture into opposition politics have had hard times being reintegrated as the public service commission is reluctant to take them back into government. They also complained that civil servants especially from the military who have represented Zanu-PF in elections have been in and out of government without challenges.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief correspondent Reuben Barwe torched a storm when he was elected unopposed as secretary for information and publicity in the Zanu PF District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections for Makoni district in 2020.
Then MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said it was an “absolute joke” that a ZBC reporter can hold a political party office and keep his job.
“This violates s61(4)(b) of the Constitution which requires ZBC to be impartial. The political capture of state media must stop,” Mahere said.
In Gweru, prosecutor Namatirai Chipere was forced to resign after she ran for legal affairs secretary in the same DCC elections. – Community Podium