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‘RBZ must retrench’

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe board has ordered the central bank to cut — with or without packages — three quarters of its staff to match its scaled down operations and avoid a ballooning retrenchment bill.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team which was in the country made similar recommendations when it met RBZ officials on Tuesday, according to central bank sources.
The IMF team visited the RBZ on Tuesday and was locked in marathon meetings from morning until 8pm to push for critical reforms.
The sources said the IMF team further recommended an audit of the RBZ structures following allegations that there are “ghost workers” milking the bank’s dry coffers.
According to the sources, the board wants to retrench 1 500 workers, retaining over 500 who will work on the RBZ’s now lean duties.  
“There is a concern that if the bank keeps the workers for a longer period, the package will be ballooning, so they have to go,” said a central bank insider, speaking on condition of anonymity.
RBZ officials told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that central bank board members met the RBZ governor and board chairman Gideon Gono and management in July where they agreed to take the drastic measure. The RBZ bloated its staff during Zimbabwe’s crisis  when the bank took over the financing of virtually all of Zimbabwe’s sectors, including parastatals and local councils.
Finance minister Tendai Biti, appointed to the portfolio in February last year, stopped the bank’s involvement in quasi-fiscal activities that had turned into a gravy train for politically connected individuals.
He appointed a new RBZ board in May this year to transform the central bank’s operations and deal with a plethora of major challenges, including devising methods to clear a staggering US$1,2 billion debt.
Some of the new board members are deputy chairman Charles Kuwaza, finance ministry permanent secretary Willard Manungo, retired judge George Smith, lawyer Modercai Mahlangu, labour expert Godfrey Kanyenze and leading academic Professor Primrose Kurasha.
Sources at RBZ said retrenchment had been delayed by lack of money to pay packages for affected workers, the majority of who were hired by Gono when he assumed office in 2003.
“A clean-up is looming at the RBZ following a board meeting in July that resolved to lay off workers because they can’t even pay salaries. The RBZ board said 2 000 employees should lose their jobs in the near future; It’s not yet clear when the workers would be retrenched but it’s soon,” said an RBZ official.

 

Brian Chitemba

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