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Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month that the government would implement a raft of measures, including slashing its onerous civil service wage bill and restructuring the country’s under-performing parastatals as Zimbabwe attempts to stem its long-running economic decline.
“We have made efforts to reduce our employment costs by tightening controls and starting to rationalise the civil service,” Chinamasa said in a letter to the IMF dated September 30, 2015 and which was co-signed by Reserve bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.
“We will keep the 2015 employment costs below budget projections. Cabinet is currently considering the report by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), containing proposals to streamline public sector employment.
“In line with the recently-completed audit of the civil service, we have started to eliminate duplications and (effecting) redundancies,” the pragmatic but under fire Chinamasa added.
This comes after the minister, in his 2015 National Budget, readily conceded that 81 percent of the government’s $4,1 billion revenue – a staggering $3,32 billion – would go towards employment costs, with the remaining $798 million to be used for operations, debt servicing and capital development programmes.
It has also been revealed that the government’s workforce rose from about 315 000 in 2009 to about 554 000 this year, with a concomitant increase in ghost workers in most government departments during the period, particularly in the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment ministry.
Chinamasa said in his letter to the IMF that the government had set up a wage bill management committee to make proposals to reduce its salaries bill to the accepted level of 40 percent of expenditure over the next few years.
“Moreover, by end-2015 we expect to complete decentralisation and modernisation of the Salary Service Bureau, which would place a payroll assistant in every district, strengthening control over the wage bill and minimising irregularities.
“We remain committed to reducing domestic arrears and improving service delivery,” he assured the Bretton Woods institution, even as hardliners in Mugabe’s warring post-congress Zanu PF are talking a very different political language in public.
Economic analysts also say faced with ever dwindling revenues, as well as declining economic conditions and the need to please his boss, Mugabe, Chinamasa is between a rock and a hard place as he battles to steer Zimbabwe out of the economic doldrums. Mugabe – known for his populist policies, which critics say have contributed to the economic demise of the country – is on record as being against the retrenchment of civil servants and the cutting of their bonuses and other perks.
And recently, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao – who is also the Indigenisation minister – warned Chinamasa against retrenching civil servants, serving apparent fear that this would cost Zanu PF support ahead of the 2018 general elections.
“Some are saying we are going to fire youth officers. Who do you think you can fire? It might be you who will go home first. If it is an MP who is saying that, then we should go and sit down with him,” he said.
In April this year, Chinamasa received a severe tongue-lashing from Mugabe after he announced that the government would suspend civil servants’ bonuses.
Mugabe promptly reversed the decision and ordered Chinamasa to “look for the money”, describing bonuses to government workers as a non-negotiable matter. source-dailynews