GOVERNMENT has started an audit to trim the civil service to reduce its unsustainable wage bill for its over 550 000 employees, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Officials from the Civil Service Commission visited schools on Tuesday to do a manual head count, review the teachers’ duties, qualifications, subjects taught and school enrolments, sources said.
Education ministry sources said the officials, who visited the schools in Mashonaland Central province, were “on a mission” as they subjected the teachers to “military-type” questioning.
“I was called during lunch hour and I had to run to the office. They asked for all my qualification documents, from Ordinary Level to my degree certificates,” said a teacher who was interviewed by auditors.
“I was then taken to my classrooms where they head-counted my students in the class and compared the results with numbers in my registers and records of marks.”
The sources also said the officials demanded that teachers who were off-work go the district offices.
“Those who were away have been given strict instructions to follow to the district offices, failure of which their salaries may be withheld,” a source said adding, “even the teachers currently on leave and study leave have been recalled so that they can be vetted.”
The audit comes after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said last year government will seek ways of reducing the civil service wage bill, which gobbles 81,5% of its revenues, leaving little else for capital projects and social services.
Chinamasa said the number of government workers rose from 315 000 in 2009 to 554 000 in 2015, chewing US$3,3 billion in salaries.
However, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has dismissed the on-going audit as a sheer waste of resources.
“The ongoing exercise by the Civil Service Commission at our schools does not inspire us at all. This audit comes on the heels of another one conducted during the days of the inclusive government whose results remain hidden in government files,” PTUZ said on Wednesday. “We know for a fact that these inspectors are being paid overtime, they are using government resources and are just abusing funds. It’s quite sad that teachers are being traumatised and forced to wait long into the night. These nicodemus visitors who are coming unannounced are forcing teachers to follow them to district offices when not found at stations.”
PTUZ also said government knows where the real ghost workers who must be flushed out are.
“Surely, they are not in the Ministry of Education. It is a fact that the Civil Service Commission never visits the real areas where these ghost workers exist. Our simple advice to the Civil Service Commission is to go to the Salary Service Bureau (SSB) and find salary returns for easy identification of these ghost workers and their locations.”'