Editorial Comment

IN our Friday edition of NewsDay, we carried a story where Zanu PF was reported to be shortlisting graduate teachers to undergo some form of compulsory political orientation at the Herbert Chitepo Ideological School as a pre-condition for joining the public service.

Although there is nothing wrong in moulding citizens that are sold out to the cause of their nation through the concept of patriotism, it becomes worrisome when the ruling party takes a leading role in a programme that is supposed to be led by government.

This Zanu PF-State conflation has been outed as the chief cause of the deep-seated polarisation that has rocked our country since independence, and needs to be nipped in the bud if we are to truly become one nation.

After the National Youth Programme failed to attract significant buy-in from the youth, it is quite unfortunate that Zanu PF thinks its desire to “orient” teachers through the Chitepo Ideological School before deployment is going to work. Patriotism can never be a Zanu PF project. It should be a national project that transcends narrow and parochial party interests.

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The fact that the “orientation school” is housed at the Zanu PF headquarters, and that the party is particularly targeting graduate teachers who are members of the party and are set to undergo a “basic orientation course” debunks the notion that it is a national programme.

It is our hope, however, that this programme will not be used to ensure that only Zanu PF-linked graduate teachers will be able to secure employment on the basis of their political connection.

Opportunities for teaching should be availed to all qualified teachers regardless of their political affiliation.
The fact that the party will submit these names to the Public Service Commission raises a stink.

This can be deemed as interfering with the teaching profession, and could be an attempt to punish teachers aligned to the opposition as government has often accused the educators of colluding with the opposition and influencing students in that regard. These are practices that should be condemned to the dustbin of history.

The Zanu PF government should instead be seized with issues to do with improving teachers’ salaries and working conditions, rather than seeking to “orient” or “re-orient” grown-up graduates desperate for jobs.