The coercion of civil servants to vote for the ruling party in Zimbabwe is an open secret. I will add allegedly to that statement, just in case. Civil servants have played a pivotal role in helping the Zanu pf government to resist change by aiding the quashing of political pluralism in Zimbabwe.
They are also a key pawn in the politics of Zimbabwe in that they constitute a large part of the educated Zimbabweans who remained in the country and have capacity to vote but whose vote in the past was neither neutral nor objective.But, with planned nationwide protests, civil servants are standing on the doorstep of history. If they can down their tools, and bring government to a halt by demanding that Mugabe steps down and their salaries be paid on time (not for nothing because we know the national reserve is empty), they can change the course of politics in Zimbabwe. And by so doing write history.
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’.
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 analyzing who of the younger working generation (the one that generally understands the relationship between politics, governance and livelihood and therefore the importance of voting in Zimbabwe) helped Zanu pf ‘win’ elections by a landslide margin in 2013.
This thinking is necessitated by the argument that the 3 million Zimbabweans who involuntarily left the country arguably form the majority of those opposed to Zanu Pf rule. This logic being derived from the fact that the MDCT, the only party that has staged the biggest challenge to dictatorial rule by Zanu Pf since independence, was born from the ZCTU labour movement.
Having said that, it is therefore logical to assume that the cornerstone of politics in Zimbabwe 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 with 3 million potentially MDCT voters out of the country all that was left was to bus civil servants to polling stations for them to cast one way votes.
The other large part of voters is the rural populace whom we see being brainwashed with partisan allocation of government funded resources such as the farming inputs scheme for which most people have to produce a Zanu Pf card in order to benefit from. Zanu pf has succeeded in helping the aged population conflate the nation state and the ruling political party.
Zanu pf’s stranglehold on power is now primarily and critically being enabled by the following factors in my opinion (1) the coercion and intimidation of civil servants to continue voting for and supporting Zanu Pf (2) the brainwashing of the populace with liberation struggle propaganda (3) partisan distribution of government funded incentives in the rural areas.
Having said that, civil servants only need to realize that they hold immense power and at this juncture they could help liberate Zimbabwe all over again from the dictatorial tentacles of Robert Mugabe and his minions.
I will end here by reminding them that for change to happen in Zimbabwe, they must make a conscious decision to stand with other sane Zimbabweans who have made the right decision to challenge the status quo through various forms of protest.
Each and every one of you; 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 children go to bed hungry, or as you get evicted from your lodgings because of your Zanu Pf government; don’t ever say this moment never came. Because it did and it’s here and you have the power to act. NOW.