10 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Government Lacks Fiscal Credibility

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The staffing level of over 40 000 cannot conceivably be necessary to run a country whose reduced resident population is less than 12 million. In particular, most of those engaged were employed by the army and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), both of which were incontrovertibly already over-staffed. Zimbabwe is not at war.

Consequently, almost the only services rendered by the military are parades at national functions and events.

Save for such duties, there is very little military service required in Zimbabwe. Indications are that the ZRP has more personnel than necessary. Illustrative thereof is that, almost daily, the ZRP is able to operate between 10 and 20 roadblocks on the Harare-Bulawayo national roads, and other main roads. While roadblocks are necessary in order to ensure public compliance with road traffic laws and to minimise accidents, ensuring such compliance is possible with a significantly reduced number of road blocks.

As worrying as the current circumstances are in relation to the magnitude and functions of the public service, government's future intentions are of even greater concern. Currently, government's wage bill approximates US$190m per month, against revenues of approximately US$200m per month, resulting in the state having only about US$10 million per month to fund all the other expenditures it incurs.

It is therefore most disturbing that there are now reports, emanating from government itself, of an intention to employ a further 8 000 to 10 000 civil servants. There can be no valid need for such a stupendous further enhancement of an already bloated public service.

This is a major destruction of Government's credibility. It entrenches the belief that not only is government incompetent and wholly unable to operate with substantive fiscal probity, but that it also massive fiscal deficits.

This is strongly reinforced by government's continued failure to address the issue of the identified 8 000 ghost workers, reduce Zimbabwe's excessive number of ministries, curb international travel by the political hierarchy and senior public servants, or contain corruption.

Consequently, government is now devoid of fiscal credibility whatsoever nationally and internationally. This needs to be vigorously addressed if the dire consequences are to be reversed, and meaningful economic recovery achieved.

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