Govt in fix over job cuts

THE recent civil service audit report clearly indicates government has no choice but to cut jobs given tight liquidity constraints that have hampered its operations, despite the political consequences of failing to fulfil its promise to create 2,2 million jobs.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The audit report, which has circulated in various government ministries but is yet to be finalised by cabinet, proposes a cocktail of measures to reduce fiscal pressures emanating mainly from wages paid to civil servants, which gobble more than 80% of revenues.

The audit carried out between February and April this year recommends far-reaching reforms to meet government’s target of reducing the wage bill from 80% to under 40% of revenue, as indicated by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in his mid-term fiscal policy presentation.

The audit reveals there are 188 070 workers in government, concurred to by Treasury, covering 24 line ministries, of which 160 083 are on government’s payroll with 20 801 vacant posts as at July 1 2015.

The audit prescribes rationalisation of 2 000 accounting officer posts in the Transport ministry, as well as the rationalisation of posts in various ministries, including 73 posts in the Sport ministry, 20 in Tourism, 25 Information and 59 posts in Women’s Affairs.

Rationalisation and redeployment, the audit recommends, should be carried out for 682 teachers in overstaffed schools with less than 100 pupils. It also proposes that 2 888 government funded teachers be withdrawn from private and trust schools.

The audit prescribes the reduction in allowances paid to 12 544 student teachers per annum as well as the granting of unpaid manpower development leave to 1 473 teachers. It also proposes that government ceases to fund 758 schools offering non-formal education.

Government is also advised by the audit to abolish 37 data-capturer posts in line ministries, and to redeploy 340 deputy school heads that are underutilised in schools.

The audit found that in Primary and Secondary Education ministry, schools are overstaffed by 5 588 teachers. The report recommended that recruitment of temporary and relief teachers be put on hold until excess staff is absorbed.

“In the long term the teacher establishment should not exceed 102 600 teachers,” the report says.

In the Higher Education ministry, the audit established that teacher training and polytechnic colleges are overstaffed by 1 716 lecturers, and recommended recruitment of lecturers be frozen until excess staff is redeployed.

The report also discloses that 121 agricultural extension officers have been deployed in urban areas where there are no posts, as well as duplication of posts between Agritex and livestock production departments.

The report recommends that the 121 workers be redeployed outside urban areas.

Economist John Robertson said the private sector could help relieve government of excess staff on their payroll, but only if they put in place the right policies to spur private sector growth.


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