Among many issues raised in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s radio talk last week dubbed “Catching up with Mnangagwa”, was his explanation that government cannot do much about civil servants who remain in government. This was in apparent response to a question on why government was not downsizing as part of the austerity measures to reduce expenditure and bring about efficiency in government operations.
Mnangagwa’s response that the civil servants have not done anything wrong and must be allowed to remain in employment until retirement betrays the many government failures that the public is witnessing. Such government failures include pensions and insurance sector where pensioners remain massively prejudiced in water supply, electricity supply, health services and agriculture, among others.
These rampant government failures that the president cannot deny are clear evidence that civil servants, as managed by the president, are doing everything wrong and must be held to account. More categorically, the civil servants are not measuring up to established performance measures in their various economic sectors and disciplines.
There is, for instance, total failure in pensions and insurance service provision overseen by the Finance ministry, as pensioners are prejudiced, with no civil servant being held to account. Surely, the civil servants under the Finance ministry, National Social Security Authority, Pension and Other Benefits Scheme and Public Service Pension Scheme, among other pillars of pension provision, are doing something wrong by allowing this to go on for this long.
More categorically, these civil servants have failed dismally in setting government policy that ensures correct benefit calculations, and generally in setting government policy that provides for effective pension and insurance governance framework covering activities forming the value chain leading to the delivery of contractual benefits from pension and insurance schemes. Such activities include accounting for pension and insurance funds, investment management, solvency management and record keeping, among others.
As a result of these failures, pension and insurance service providers have been given carte blanche in the services and are now openly stealing from the pensioners’ funds. The intended financial intermediation in these two sectors has plummeted as public confidence in these two sectors is now very low.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance right down to the regulator of pension and insurance, the Insurance and Pension Commission (Ipec), and in other areas of pension and insurance provision, are certainly doing everything wrong to pensioners and consumers of pension and insurance services in general. This cannot be left as it is. The officials and Ipec, and others must be held to account sooner rather than later.
Civil servants administering pension and insurance service provision are just a set in only two sectors under the current administration and doing things wrong manifests itself in government failures, but they are not being held to account for their incompetence. There are many other officials doing things wrong outside established performance measures in the sectors, but are not being held to account by the president.
Mnangagwa is either unwilling and/or incapable of subjecting his civil servants to performance tests for reasons open to speculation, not least that the president is party to widespread corruption in government. The article President may need an assessment framework attests to the need for government officials to be under a performance assessment framework.
Mnangagwa needs to wield the axe and curb these evident government failures. Government would in the process meet its side of the austerity bargain.
Martin Tarusenga is general manager of Zimbabwe Pensions and Insurance Rights Trust. — firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed the two articles are those of the author and do not represent those of the organisations that the author represents.