14 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Government Axes 6 000 Ghost Workers

GOVERNMENT has axed 6 000 ghost workers from its payroll, removing the remaining outstanding issue towards initiating a staff-monitored programme (SMP) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a report released after a recent executive board meeting on Zimbabwe, the IMF said most of the "red flags" that had been raised in the payroll and skills audit had been addressed.

"A report from the Public Service Commission (PSC) indicated that some 6 000 irregularly employed youth officers have been removed from the payroll," said the report.

"Also, the PSC report affirmed that the bulk of the red flags raised in the Payroll and Skills Audit have been explained or addressed."

An SMP is an informal and flexible instrument for dialogue between the IMF staff and a member country on its economic policies. Under SMP, the country's targets and policies are monitored by the IMF staff.

Discussions towards an SMP had been held back by two issues -- timely reporting of data and ghost workers.

However, the timely reporting of data was achieved last year.

The Public Service minister, Lucia Matibenga could not confirm or deny that the ghost workers had been axed last week.

Finance minister Tendai Biti could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country.

The World Bank financed the Payroll and Skills audit that was undertaken by Ernst and Young (India) to flush out ghost workers.

Two reports were submitted in November 2010 and in July last year.

Most of the ghost workers were recruited just before the June 2008 presidential election run-off to campaign for President Robert Mugabe.

These included unqualified youth militias and war veterans deployed by government and were to draw salaries from Treasury.

Some of them were those whose names were listed on the payroll as receiving salaries, but did not exist or no longer worked for the concerned organisation.

Their payments and other benefits may have been captured by corrupt third parties.

Biti has in the past said the money paid to ghost workers was capable of changing the lives of the civil servants.

Early this year, MDC-T legislator for Mutare West, Shuah Mudiwa, told Parliament that at least US$25 million would be saved monthly if the ghost workers were removed from the government payroll.

The IMF said moving towards an SMP would require improving macro-economic policy management and making regular payments to the Poverty Reduction Growth Trust.

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