ZANU PF is stepping up its election campaign with the army, police and prison services embarking on a massive recruitment drive to aid the party to win the do-or-die polls later this year.
Government sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week secret recruitments by Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) were underway in defiance of the Public Service Commission freeze on employments.
Finance minister Tendani Biti last year raised alarm over the issue. Before the June 2008 presidential election run-off similar recruitments were done to rescue President Robert Mugabe from the jaws of defeat after he had lost the first round of polling to MDC-T leader, now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Since Mugabe started calling for elections in 2010, the police, army and prison services were given the target of recruiting as many people as possible before elections although this contradicts the government policy on recruitment," a source said.
"The strategy being used to ensure police officers, army, prison services, their wives, children and dependents vote Zanu PF to make a difference in the next elections," said the source.
The security services have a combined workforce of close to 130 000 people and the recent recruitments would hopefully push the figure close to 200 000 before elections.
"If each officer has, say, five people of voting age under his or her household and they vote for Zanu PF, then the party would get up to its one million votes target," said the source.
Another source in government said new recruits started their training countrywide on May 2, while the prison services recruited in February and March.
"In Mbalabala training commenced on May 2, while prison services recruited in February and March. Another group of recruits in the army is expected to start training soon," the source said.
The source also said Zanu PF officials, MPs, war veterans and their employees have been approached to submit names of relatives interested in joining the uniformed forces.
"Each official is given a certain number of people from his immediate family who can be recruited while the MPs are asked to recommend people close to Zanu PF from their constituencies," said the source. Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said yesterday there was nothing abnormal about the recruitments.
"We have a clearly laid-down recruitment policy and we recruit whenever is necessary to maintain a suitable ratio with the public," she said.
"We are not contradicting any government policy. Whoever told you that there is a government policy to freeze recruitment will be better placed to tell us that we are against government policy." ZPS public relations officer Elizabeth Banda said her organisation recruits when need arises as they are not bound by the government policy on civil service employment freeze.
"We recruit when need arises within the organisation and the government policy does not apply to us," she said.
The ZNA had not responded to questions sent to its public relations department by the time of going to print.
MDC-T secretary for defence and security Giles Mutsekwa said the recruitment drive was "suspicious" as it came just before elections. "Suspicious recruitments are currently going on. I can confirm in Mutare 3 Brigade (army base) has been recruiting. This is against government position that until we are able to reward our civil servants we are not supposed to have new intakes," Mutsekwa said.
"This is a deliberate attempt by Zanu PF to recruit as many people as possible to boost their chances of winning the next elections. What Zanu PF is not aware of is that those people do not support them. Those are desperate people seeking employment and won't help the dying party's chances to win the elections."