Windhoek — The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has dismissed the 2011/12 annual report of the Public Service Commission (PSC) that says there are "ghost workers" in the ministry.
The PSC conducted comprehensive human resource and payroll audits in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, as well as the agriculture ministry.
The aim of the exercise was to assess the effectiveness of human resource functions and to ensure they comply with public service laws, as well as to identify "ghost employees" on the payrolls of the different offices, ministries, agencies and regional councils.
It was detected in the agriculture ministry that 382 names appeared on the payroll and not on the staff establishment, while 19 names of staff members whose services were terminated or who were transferred to other offices, ministries and agencies were still on the staff establishment. According to the PSC report, the names of persons appearing on the payroll, not on the establishment, gives the impression of "ghost employees", which is tantamount to corruption.
Agriculture minister John Mutorwa on Tuesday in the National Assembly described the PSC findings as a "serious unsubstantiated, underserved charge from a constitutional body, which is expected to carry out its mandate and functions, independently, impartially, objectively and professionally".
He explained that on January 19, 2006, the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) through a letter, formally conveyed President Hifikepunye Pohamba's announcement that "the transfer of the forestry function from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism will now resort under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry."
In addition, the Minister said in a memorandum to the Secretary to Cabinet, dated December 9, 2005, that the DPSM recommended that the 220 units (ex-combatants) employed in addition to the fixed establishment of the Directorate of Forestry should also be transferred to the agriculture ministry.
"It proposed ... the receiving ministry be subject to the same provisions as at the ministry of environment, namely until incumbents reach the retirement age of 60 years," Mutorwa explained. Cabinet then approved the recommendation on January 13, 2006. He said officials of the Audit Department from the PSC Secretariat audited the payroll and the organisational structure of the agriculture ministry, during February 2012.
Mutorwa said a list of 375 names was provided to the agriculture ministry's human resource office to verify why those staff members were on the payroll, but not on the establishment or organisational structure of the ministry.
"During March 2012, the ministry of agriculture provided the required verified information to the PSC Secretariat, clearly explaining that 220 ex-combatants are placed additional to the structure of the Directorate of Forestry, as approved by the PSC and Office of the Prime Minister on January 13, 2006," he explained.
He said his ministry explained to the audit team that those staff members who left the ministry (Directorate of Forestry), and whose names still appeared on the payroll list at the time of the audit did not receive any salaries anymore.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director, Paulus Noah, said his office did not receive any information regarding "ghost workers" on the payrolls of different offices, ministries and agencies.
PSC Chairperson, Ambassador Eddie Ankongo, could not be reached for comment by the time of going to press.
The home affairs ministry also denied having any "ghost workers" on its payroll.