ZIMBABWE’s civil service is getting even more bloated at a time government has to reduce its unsustainable wage bill after war veterans were absorbed into the public service, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
The cash-strapped government, which spends over 80% of its revenues on the wage bill, has incorporated war veterans’ provincial leaders into the civil service under the newly-formed Ministry of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Detainees and Restrictees.
Government has also bought 10 vehicles for the ministry’s provincial officials.
The cars were bought despite the fact that the ministry has no budget allocation in the 2015 budget as it was created after the Zanu PF congress in December, weeks after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa presented the national budget to parliament.
This comes at a time government is battling to effect crucial civil service reforms which would include rationalisation of the civil service.
A senior government official said this week the vehicles were handed to war veterans provincial chairpersons at the beginning of this month, while some provinces are in the process of finding new offices in various government buildings around the country.
“The War Veterans ministry is now a fully-fledged ministry and the provincial leaders are now running the ministry in their provinces,” the source said.
The establishment of the provincial offices also comes at a time war veterans are demanding an upward review of their monthly gratuities and allowances.
According to the resolutions of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association Masvingo chapter, war veterans are demanding an upward review of their monthly wages from US$165 to the level of civil servants. Unbudgeted payment of lump sums for war veterans in 1997 was partly blamed for precipitating the collapse of the economy which culminated in the demise of the local currency.
Since then the former freedom fighters have always been used as cannon fodder during elections by Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe who turns to them for support each time elections are imminent.
In the build-up to the December congress, war veterans, led by their chairperson and minister Chris Mutsvangwa, launched a spirited attack on ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her allies.
The group played a crucial role in passing votes of no confidence in most senior members of the party accused of plotting Mugabe’s assassination.
Mutsvangwa went to the extent of discrediting Mujuru’s war exploits and accused her of ineptitude, among other things.
The war veterans even threatened to physically harm Mujuru and any of her perceived allies if they attended the Zanu PF congress.