Teachers And Elections In Zimbabwe
18 August 2023
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General elections are held after every 5 years according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Pre and Post election season has always been dominated by a lot of political activities in the society throughout the history of elections in Zimbabwe. The build up to election season has always gripped the nation with a lot of anxiety and expectations. Criticail sectors such as the Military, Police, CIO , Teachers e. t. c all have played a role in Zimbabwean elections.

Focusing more about the involvement of teachers in the elections includes the pre-election season, the actual election voting season and post election season.

The pre election season includes activities like political campaigns voter education and any other activities related to elections. Teachers have been taking a major role in Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) activities such as Voter Education, Voter Inspection, this has been traditionally done through the process of Secondment where teachers will be seconded to go and get trained by ZEC officials and then after training be deployed to carry out ZEC duties on an allowance reward basis.

Politicians of participating political parties in particular ZANU PF enjoys having most of their political rallies at schools, they also enjoy seating in tents at those rallies seeing school children standing in front entertaining them through poems dramma and any other form of entertainment . All the rehearsals of these entertainment activities provided by school kids will have been carried out by teachers who are instructed to do so by educational officials such as Headmasters , District Schools Inspectors and Provincial Schools Inspectors also at the instruction of political bigwigs.

When learning is disrupted when schools provides venue for a political rallies teachers are forced to attend of which failure to attend these rallies especially in politically volatile areas will result with intimidation of teachers from political players, this year it has been worsened by the emergency of ZANU PF extended political outfit called Teachers4ED. As such one can conclude that teacher involvement in the build up to the election period is cohesive and pursuasive participation.

During the actual election voting season teachers play a more pivotal role as election officials. This is the period where the bulk number of teachers will be deployed as polling officers, presiding officers, Ward election officers e.t.c. There is no way that ZEC would opt not to recruit teachers during this phase of elections considering the total number of polling stations across the country against the required knowledgeable technical manpower required.

Such duties from Zec comes with allowances for our poorly remunerated teachers . Indeed it will be an extra Income to boost the salary and that is the reason why ZEC take advantage of and can even pay teachers allowance for their services even three months after the process in RTGS rates as well. Apart from the fact that ZEC takes advantage of the current man made poverty on teachers in paying them it is also on record that whenever the call for list of teachers to be submitted to ZEC has been made for secondment and deployment , teachers will still stamped to make sure that their names are submitted for consideration.

In some instances when deployment is made ZEC can consider deploying even teachers outside their voting boundaries such as another wards which will result in limiting one’s access to vote. In 2018 General Elections Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union Of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) made a High Court application challenging this anomally and the Court ordered that ZEC should provide transport for teachers to be able to go and vote in their respective voting areas .

*On Election Outcome*: the election outcome and involvement of teacher is disturbing and worrisome. The reason being that the involvement of teachers in election is not centred on substance based election outcome.

Substance based election outcome participation must be backed by ideological policy based outcome promises which spearheads positive change in the educational sector such as increased access to inclusive education, legislative law alignment process with specific interest to labour laws, dignified and decent salaries as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The Politicians in Zimbabwe have a challenge that they think that they are super human beings who thinks on behalf of others hence they see no need to consult. These politicians sell their manifesto as if they are home made products at bus stop terminus, with sectors such as teachers not giving in any input to the ingredients of the nature of product that will be consumed by them . If teachers are real customers in any election outcome product then focus must be centred on the ingredients of the product .

The onus is upon the teachers to demand credible and substance based election participation.

*Cde Robson Nikita Chere*

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union Of Zimbabwe
National Secretary General

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