Fresh clashes are set to emerge within the coalition government after revelations that provincial governors have been mandated to recruit thousands of youths into the prisons service ahead of this year's watershed elections.
Sources within the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) told The Standard that under the new recruitment system, thousands of Zanu PF youths were set to be employed in key positions within the institution.
All the current provincial governors and resident ministers are Zanu PF members after President Robert Mugabe refused to appoint those from the two MDCs in defiance of the Global Political Agreement and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
"Recruitment forms were dispatched to the provincial governors on Thursday, with a view that they start recruiting as soon as possible," a senior ZPS official said.
"The Governors and District Administrators are obviously going to recruit along partisan lines. Our fear is that only people connected to Zanu PF will be recruited."
The official said each of the 10 provincial governors in the country had been tasked with recruiting an initial 200 youths into prison service.
This would see an estimated 2 000 youths being recruited within the next few weeks. The official said all prospective prison services recruits were now being referred to their respective provincial governor's offices.
Governors to champion the drive
The ZPS is headed by retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi, one of the securocrats who have openly vowed that they would not salute Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai even if he were to win Presidential elections.
ZPS spokesperson, Elizabeth Banda confirmed that provincial governors and DAs would now be involved in the recruitment of prison officers as part of a decentralisation programme.
She said the provincial governors would mostly assist in making announcements whenever the ZPS would be recruiting.
Banda said ZPS used to seek recruits through the media, but it had been realised that only people with access to newspapers were benefitting.
"We now want to cast our net wide in order to recruit from all corners of the country, hence the involvement of governors and DAs," said Banda.
She said once recruits are identified, it would be up to the ZPS to do the proper recruitment and not the governors per se.
She said although ZPS considered the fact that the process might be politicised, it was hoped that the selection would be done in a transparent manner.
Banda said while the current ZPS training school in Ntabazinduna near Bulawayo can accommodate 650 recruits, more space could be sourced from sister organisations if they decided to take more trainees.
However, Minister of Public Service, Lucia Matibenga on Friday professed ignorance about the development.
Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Senator Obert Gutu yesterday also said he was unaware of the move, vowing his MDC-T would resist such an initiative.
"This is possibly being influenced by the pending elections. It is unacceptable," he said.
Gutu said under the law, prison officers were civil servants, meaning that only the Prison Service Commission was responsible for recruitment.
MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora also accused Zanu PF of using its "machinery" to recruit manpower in a partisan manner.
"We have also seen the recruitment of members of the army being done in a partisan manner," he said.
"I am hopeful that the government is going to block this intention which is totally unacceptable. District administrators, provincial administrators and governors are political appointees who should never be involved in the recruitment of members of the public service."
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo was not answering his phone yesterday.
The proposed recruitment by the prison services comes less than a year after the government axed close to 6 000 ghost workers who were irregularly employed in 2008 by the ministry of youth development, indigenisation and economic empowerment.