The payroll and skills audit conducted by Ernst and Young (India) under contract from the Public Service Ministry is incomplete and makes unsubstantiated claims about the number of State employees on Government's payroll, the Public Service Commission has said.
In its response to the audit, the PSC also pointed out that the Public Service Ministry has only availed volume one of the audit and the two others have not been heard of.
The report, it is alleged, ignored Cabinet's terms of reference and limited itself to checking "noncompliance to regulations in relation to police clearance, medical clearance, appointment forms and appointment letters".
The audit proceeds to characterise 75 273 people without any one of these documents as "ghost workers".
This is against a full staff complement of 188 019 civil servants, suggesting that each line ministry has 2 281 ghost workers. It also means there are just 112 746 "genuine" civil servants.
The PSC said, "Of the 112 746, 99 868 are teachers for both 5 600 primary and 2 500 secondary schools.
"Thus if this figure (99 868) is subtracted from 112 746 (alleged genuine civil servants) for the remaining 32 ministries (excluding Education), including the Health Services Board (nurses, doctors and paramedical staff), this technically translates to a figure of 403 employees per ministry."
The PSC said such an assertion -- that the other 32 ministries had an average of just 403 employees -- was "ridiculous to say the least".
The commission pointed out that apart from Education, other big ministries in terms of staff were Home Affairs, Agriculture, Higher and Tertiary Education, Health, Local Government, Foreign Affairs and Public Service.
Observers have said the attempt to create a huge "ghost" workforce was designed to make State workers think they are being poorly paid because of corruption within the civil service system. They said this was to draw attention away from the fact "certain politicians had promised workers more money but are now backtracking".
The PSC itself said: "The statistical misrepresentation of facts on the ground is a clear sign of Western machination on Zimbabwe."
The commission said the figures in the audit were "manufactured in the Ministry of Public Service's Human Resources Repository Database".
"In the same audit report, the external auditors acknowledged that the Human Resources Repository Database had serious statistical errors . . .
"Furthermore, the socalled payroll audit supposedly audited 188 019 civil servants for 2008, against an authorised establishment of 193 159 posts concurred to by Treasury for the same year.
"This means that at the time of the audit there was a vacancy rate of 5 140.
"Therefore, to allege that the socalled payroll and skills audit unearthed 75 000 over the establishment is preposterous to say the least.
"In essence, there can be no ghosts on the payroll before vacancies are filled."
The PSC also warned against an audit recommendation that the Public Service Ministry investigates the allegations, saying no line ministry had the authority to probe another.
Only the PSC has such a mandate because of its statutory nature.
The PSC indicated that it carried out its own periodic audits as a matter of course.
An audit recommendation that 2 191 civil servants who were not present during enumeration be investigated to consider their possible dismissal was also slammed.
"The commission concedes that there could be civil servants who could not have turned up for enumeration due to a number of reasons such as various leave types and school holidays.
"However, failure to show up for enumeration is not an act of misconduct.
"The recommendation contravenes provisions of the Public Service Act.
"The report is silent on who should investigate this further."
The PSC said the inconclusive nature of the audit made it hard to take seriously and the recommendations on further investigations would be looked at sceptically within the framework of value for money as the initial objectives had not been met or completely ignored.