By Mugove Tafirenyika
A number of teachers are unhappy at their exclusion from participating in the forthcoming elections as polling officers. During harmonised elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) enlists the services of teachers and other civil servants to work as polling officers.
The Daily News can, however, report that while the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education directed all school headmasters to submit names of their teaching staff for consideration, several teachers were not on the list submitted to Zec.
Teachers from Mashonaland East Province alleged that they were being punished on suspicions that they supported the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
“What makes everything suspicious is that our headmasters were not involved in the selection process.
“They simply sent out all our names (to the ministry) but when the final list came, we were surprised to see that the three of us were left out.
“Upon enquiring at the District Office, we were referred to Zec,” a teacher at a school in Marondera Central, said.
Zec chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, said the elections management body was not to blame for the omissions.
“As Zec, we have a national logistics committee, which requested a certain number of polling officers from each province and we got that from the Public Service because we do not go down to the schools to select the people we want — it is a function of government,” Chigumba said.
The development comes amid complaints by teachers that some of those who will be polling officers may not be able to vote as they were deployed away from their polling stations.
Under the new biometric voter registration (BVR) system, eligible voters are required to cast their ballots at a particular polling station within their wards.
In the past, a voter would vote at any centre across the country.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) wrote to Chigumba recently saying it had noted with concern that some teachers who were recruited as polling officers were deployed far away from the polling stations they were duly registered during the BVR process which makes it impossible for them to vote in the July 30 general elections.
Artuz president, Obert Masaraure, requested Zec to urgently facilitate that all teachers recruited as polling officers and displaced from their polling stations are enabled to vote.
“Artuz is a clearly interested party in this process as it has a legitimate interest to represent a constituency of teachers who fall under its membership in that process,” wrote Masaraure, emphasising the need for teachers who will be polling officers to exercise their franchise rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Chapter 4, Part 2 of the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution states that every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over 18 years of age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums. DailyNews