Scandal rocks civil service

A CIVIL Service Commission audit has unearthed the massive rot in President Robert Mugabe’s government, where millions of dollars are allegedly being spent on salaries to ghost and idle workers, amid reports that over $3,3 billion — 83% of the National Budget — was gobbled by salaries alone in 2015.

The audit all but confirms reports that thousands of ghost workers – mostly unqualified Zanu PF militias and supporters – were bleeding Treasury of millions of dollars.

A total of 12 392 people were found to be rendering service to government yet not appearing on the payroll, causing an unbudgeted expenditure of $81 147 840 per annum.

“It has been observed that 96% of these members are from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry. This has the effect of distorting the payroll, leaving the system open to abuse in the form of members being allowed to provide service without authority,” reads the report.

“Thereafter, they will request for payment for services rendered since there is a legal obligation for the State to pay for the services provided.”

The report, presented to Cabinet by Civil Service Commission chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwah, also revealed duplication of duties by line ministries, overstaffing and wrong deployment of some workers to areas where they were not useful.

It was revealed schools were overstaffed by 5 588 teachers due to the splitting of classes, combining classes,hiring of teachers by school development associations (SDAs) and abuse of the technical vocational teacher facility, which cost the government more than $33 million annually.

“There are 121 Agritex extension workers deployed in urban areas where there are no posts,” reads part of the report, which has since been given to Parliament.

The deployment of Agritex officers to urban areas consumed over $2 million annually, while redundant city and town-based youth officers employed by the Ministry of Youth were gobbling $21,6 million.

The report revealed that the 13 polytechnics were overstaffed by 1 289 lecturers, while 13 teacher training colleges were overstaffed by 427 lecturers.

“Twenty-six teacher training colleges and polytechnics were teaching secondary school subjects under the guise of bridging courses, thereby causing overstaffing through engagement of more lecturers,” the report reads.

According to the audit, the government has 188 070 approved posts within the civil service excluding those in the uniformed and health services, with 167 269 of them having been filled, consuming over $2 billion annually.

“Over the years, the size of the civil service has been fluctuating against the backdrop of a slow growing economy,” the report states, adding that “the employment cost for the public service has continued to increase since 2009”.

According to the report, in 2008 they were 140 799 public workers, with the figure increasing to 157 560 in 2009, 134 788 in 2010, 158 800 in 2011, 166 959 in 2012, 152 520 in 2013 and162 272 in 2014.

In 2015, the public service workforce ballooned to 167 269.

According to the report, there was duplication of functions in metropolitan structures of decentralised Youth Development and Economic Empowerment and Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministries, costing the cash strapped government over $21 million.

“The two ministries have a combined total of 154 posts in metropolitan provinces. Youth development and ward co-ordinators were doing the same job,” the report states.

Also, there was overstaffing of youth officers countrywide drawing in excess of $21 million annually for no work done.

The audit also revealed that there was overtime payment to some public workers without authorisation from the commission, causing the wage bill to balloon.

“There is need to eliminate duplication of functions through rationalisation of 3 808 posts for extension workers at ward level in the Agriculture ministry to save $24 million annually,” the report states.

Besides duplication of duties, at least 2 888 teachers were drawing a salary of $19 800 576 annually from government while working for private schools, an arrangement that was scrapped last year.

It was also noted that in some schools, school development committees and associations employed their own teachers, who were getting better salaries than those employed by the State, hence creating disharmony within the institutions.

 

“The audit noted glaring disparities in salaries paid to SDA-funded teachers and those paid to government-funded teachers. The SDA teacher salaries were observed to be a source of labour disharmony,” the report reads.

NewsDay