‘Civil servants entitled to political affiliation’

28 Jun, 2017 - 01:06 0 Views
‘Civil servants entitled to political affiliation’ Cde George Charamba

The Herald

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba

From Zvamaida Murwira in Bulawayo—
The conferment of the right to vote to civil servants and members of the security services by the Constitution means they are entitled to belong to a political party of their choice, a senior Government official has said. Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said what was critical was that the two groups were not supposed to be influenced by their political allegiance in the discharge of their duties.

Mr Charamba said this at the weekend while addressing civic society and Members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Zvimba West Member of Parliament Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi.

He was responding to questions during an interface meeting supported by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust aimed at considering a petition to Parliament by the Election Resource Centre on the need to review the Electoral Act and align it with the Constitution.

Mutare Central Member of Parliament Mr Innocent Gonese (MDC-T), had asked Mr Charamba who earlier on had said he belonged to Zanu-PF whether or not his allegiance to the ruling party was not in violation of the Constitution which required civil servants to be apolitical and not to hold office in political parties.

“I thought the discussion yesterday related to allowing members of the police, security services, members of the civil service who are on duty to vote,” said Mr Charamba.

“How else do you vote unless and until you belong to a political party? Voting implies making a choice, the only difference is that some are less sincere in that they leave it to conjecture and that you belong to this or that political party.

“In my case, I don’t, I make it very clear where I belong. In the discharge of my function as a civil servant, I must not be seen to be taking decision or action that are traceable to my allegiance to the party.”

Mr Charamba said the reason why he attended the workshop was that he respected a State institution.

Harare West MP Ms Jessie Majome (MDC-T) had also asked Mr Charamba if he respected the Constitution after he had attacked Section 61 of the supreme law, which imposed a legal obligation to the public media to be impartial, but did not impose that requirement to privately owned broadcasting stations.

“What I will submit myself to and I will submit wholly is my subservient to the Constitution, but what I will never agree to is the tyranny of a section of the Constitution,” said Mr Charamba.

“Yes, essentially what it means is there are sections which will have to be interrogated and depending on how they pinch on the foot that wear the shoes you will see a bit of emotions. That particular section of the Constitution does not just make sense at all. I repeat, it just does not make sense.

“What good reason do you have to isolate one section of the media merely by ownership. Absolutely there is no good reason. But that should never be construed to mean that I don’t submit to the Constitution as a body. I do. As a matter of fact, each time I approach it, I treat it with reverence that is next to the Bible.”

Mr Charamba had premised his argument on the fact that privately owned broadcasting stations were using national finite resources, the frequency, hence the need for them to be equally impartial.

He said there was need to make a distinction between his views as a private citizen with that of him as Government official, which was why he penned a column in The Saturday Herald called The Other Side by Nathaniel Manheru to reflect his personal views.

“The whole purpose of writing as Nathaniel Manheru and not as Permanent Secretary Charamba is trying to draw distinction between the views I might hold as an individual and the views that represent the Ministry,” said Mr Charamba.

“In some cases, people collapse the two so that they follow you. There are instances where I have even attacked members of my own party. And this is precisely George Charamba and please don’t try to gag him because it won’t make sense. I need that right.”

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