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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 17:36 GMT
Party test for Zimbabwe civil servants
A grandmother feeds donated bread to her family in Zimbabwe
Zanu-PF is accused of denying aid to opposition supporters

Zimbabwe's government is looking at ways in which it can ensure that only "patriotic Zimbabweans" work for the civil service.

According to the country's Public Service Commission, anyone working for or wanting to join the civil service will be tested on their level of loyalty to the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Perspective entrants who fail the test will not be employed. Those who are already employed could be dismissed.

This latest move adds to criticism already levelled at the Zimbabwean Government, which has recently been in the news for denying food aid to starving opposition supporters.

Half the country's population is currently in need of urgent help.

Stringent criteria

According to Ray Ndhlukula, Secretary of the Public Service Commission, there are too many people working in the civil service who are not committed to the ruling party and government.

President Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has already been heavily criticised
This, said Mr Ndhlukula, cannot continue - hence the new stringent tests beginning next year.

Mr July Moyo, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, is already said to have submitted proposals to the government to introduce measures to assess the suitability of those wanting to join the civil service.

The same measures for joining are also likely to apply for promotion purposes.

Details of how the assessment will be conducted have not yet been given.

But for the estimated 160,000 civil servants, including teachers and nurses, it may be prudent to buy a ruling party card and start practising the party slogans to remain employed.

Recalling names of senior Zanu-PF officials may be an added advantage.

'Political witch-hunt'

The new measures have not gone down well with the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), or some civil servants.

Two government workers told the BBC the new measures would fail as they would simply fake support for the ruling party.

According to Pauline Mpariwa, the MDC's Secretary for Labour and Social Security, the move is merely a political witch-hunt exercise, aimed at getting rid of opposition supporters.

Ms Mpariwa said civil servants must be loyal to the nation and not to a political party.

The government has also recently introduced a national service for youths.

From next year, no student will be allowed into government tertiary colleges before undergoing a six-month training exercise which critics say is little less than military training.


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16 Jul 02 | Africa
09 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
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