The Public Service

The Public Service


Structures of public administration

Public administration is carried out by the civil service.


The 2013 Constitution has the following provisions:


199 Civil Service

(1) There is a single Civil Service, which is responsible for the administration of Zimbabwe.

(2) The Civil Service consists of persons employed by the State other than—

(a) members of the security services and any other security service that may be established;

(b) judges, magistrates and persons presiding over courts established by an Act of Parliament;

(c) members of Commissions established by this Constitution;

(d) the staff of Parliament; and

(e) any other person whose office or post is stated, by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament, not to form part of the Civil Service.

(3) An Act of Parliament must provide for the organisation, structure, management, regulation, discipline and, subject to section 203, the conditions of service of members of the Civil Service.


201 Minister responsible for Civil Service

The President must appoint a Minister to be responsible for the Civil Service.


202 Establishment and composition of Civil Service Commission

(1) There is a Civil Service Commission consisting of—

(a) a chairperson and deputy chairperson; and

(b) a minimum of two and a maximum of five other members;

appointed by the President.

(2)Members of the Civil Service Commission must be chosen for their knowledge of or experience in administration, management or the provision of public services.


203 Functions of Civil Service Commission

(1) The Civil Service Commission has the following functions—

(a) to appoint qualified and competent persons to hold posts in the Civil Service;

(b) subject to section 65(5), to fix and regulate conditions of service, including salaries, allowances and other benefits, of members of the Civil Service;

(c) to exercise control and disciplinary powers over members of the Civil Service;

(d) to investigate grievances and to remedy the grievances of members of

the Civil Service concerning official acts or omissions;

(e) to implement measures to ensure effective and efficient performance within, and the general well-being of, the Civil Service;

(f) to ensure that members of the Civil Service carry out their duties efficiently and impartially;

(g) to advise the President and the Minister on any matter relating to the Civil Service;

(h) to promote throughout the Civil Service the values and principles set out in this Constitution; and

(i) to exercise any other function that is conferred or imposed on the Commission by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.

(2) The Civil Service Commission, with the approval of the Minister responsible forthe Civil Service, may make regulations for any of the purposes set out in subsection (1).

(3) The Civil Service Commission must exercise its functions in accordance with any general written policy directives which the Minister responsible for the Civil Service may give it.

(4) In fixing the salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the Civil Service, the Civil Service Commission must act with the approval of the President given on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for finance and after consultation with the Minister responsible for the Civil Service.


The President appoints Ministers to head various Ministries. The President also appoints the Secretary to the Cabinet and Secretaries of the Ministries in consultation with the Public Service Commission. The President must inform Parliament if he makes such an appointment on a basis that is not consistent with the recommendation of the Public Service Commission. (s 77 of Constitution). The Public Service Commission (PSC) appoints other members of the public service.


The PSC consists of a chairperson and not less than 2 and not more than 7 other members. The President appoints the members of the PSC. He must chose as Commissioners persons with ability and experience in administration or who have professional qualifications or who are otherwise suitable for appointment. The chairperson and at least one other member must be persons who have held a post or posts of a senior grade in the public service for periods which in the aggregate amount to at least 3 years. (s 74 of the Constitution)


The PSC appoints both permanent and contract public servants, assigns and promotes them to offices, posts and grades in the public service and fixes their conditions of service. (s 8 of the Public Service Act [Chapter 16:04].)When considering candidates for appointment to or promotion within the public service, the PSC must–

  • have regard to the merit principle, that is, the principle that preference should be given to the person who, in the Commission’s opinion, is the most efficient and suitable for appointment to the office, post or grade concerned; and
  • ensure that there is no discrimination on the ground of political opinions.

(s 18 of the Public Service Act).


Section 200 of the Constitution provides for the Conduct of members of Civil Service:

(1)Members of the Civil Service must act in accordance with this Constitution and the law.

(2)No member of the Civil Service may obey an order that is manifestly illegal.

(3)No member of the Civil Service may, in the exercise of their functions—

(a) act in a partisan manner;

(b) further the interests of any political party or cause;

(c) prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or

(d) violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person.

(4)Members of the Civil Service must not be office-bearers of any political party.

(5)An Act of Parliament must make provision to ensure the political neutrality of the Civil Service.


Access by public to services provided by public service


It is laid down in Article 21(2) of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights that “everyone has the right to equal access to the public service in his country”. In other words, everyoneis entitled to have equal access to the public service, regardless of his or her gender, political affiliation, race or ethnic origins.


The prohibition upon discriminatory practices by public servants when dealing with members of the public was explicitly contained in s 23 of the previous Constitution of Zimbabwe. In summary, this section provided–

  • a law make not make any provision that is itself discriminatory or in its effect;
  • a person may not, acting on the basis of a statute, treat another in a discriminatory manner;
  • a person performing the functions of any public office or public authority may not treat another in a discriminatory manner.

A law and treatment under a law will amount to discrimination if it prejudices persons by imposing restrictions or disabilities on persons or by withholding privileges or advantages wholly or mainly on the basis of their political opinions, sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

The 2013 Constitution now simply provides in section 200 that in the performance of their duties members of the Civil Service must not act in a partisan manner or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person. The general right to non-discrimination contained in section 56 would apply to the actions of members of the Civil Service.


Principles of public administration in the Constitution

These principles are important and are set out in full below.



194 Basic values and principles governing public administration

(1) Public administration in all tiers of government, including institutions and agencies of the State, and government-controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in this Constitution, including the following principles—

(a) a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained;

(b) efficient and economical use of resources must be promoted;

(c) public administration must be development-oriented;

(d) services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias;

(e) people’s needs must be responded to within a reasonable time, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making;

(f) public administration must be accountable to Parliament and to the people;

(g) institutions and agencies of government at all levels must co-operate with each other;

(h) transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information;

(i) good human-resource management and career-development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated;

(j) public administration must be broadly representative of the diverse communities of Zimbabwe;

(k) employment, training and advancement practices must be based on merit, ability, objectivity, fairness, the equality of men and women and the inclusion of persons with disabilities;

and the State must take measures, including legislative measures, to promote these values and principles.

(2) Appointments to offices in all tiers of government, including government

institutions and agencies and government-controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be made primarily on the basis of merit.


195 State-controlled commercial entities

(1) Companies and other commercial entities owned or wholly controlled by the State must, in addition to complying with the principles set out in section 194(1), conduct their operations so as to maintain commercial viability and abide by generally accepted standards of good corporate governance.

(2) Companies and other commercial entities referred to in subsection (1) must establish transparent, open and competitive procurement systems.


196 Responsibilities of public officers and principles of leadership

(1) Authority assigned to a public officer is a public trust which must be exercised in a manner which—

(a) is consistent with the purposes and objectives of this Constitution;

(b) demonstrates respect for the people and a readiness to serve them rather than rule them; and

(c) promotes public confidence in the office held by the public officer.

(2) Public officers must conduct themselves, in public and private life, so as to avoid any conflict between their personal interests and their public or official duties, and to abstain from any conduct that demeans their office.

(3) Public officers in leadership positions must abide by the following principles of leadership—

(a) objectivity and impartiality in decision making;

(b) honesty in the execution of public duties;

(c) accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and

(d) discipline and commitment in the service of the people.


197 Terms of office of heads of government-controlled entities

An Act of Parliament may limit the terms of office of chief executive officers or heads of government-controlled entities and other commercial entities and public enterprises owned or wholly controlled by the State.

198 Legislation to enforce Chapter 9

An Act of Parliament must provide measures to enforce the provisions of this Chapter, including measures—

(a) requiring public officers to make regular disclosures of their assets;

(b) establishing codes of conduct to be observed by public officers;

(c) specifying the standards of good corporate governance to be observed

by government controlled entities and other commercial entities owned or wholly controlled by the State;

(d) providing for the disciplining of persons who contravene the provisions of this Chapter or of any code of conduct or standard referred to in paragraph (b).