Home » Governance » Chinamasa Risks Zanu-PF Backlash Over Civil Service Retrenchments

FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has said government will carry out “a productivity audit in the civil service to see if the right people are in the right places” as he battles to control the administration’s runaway wage bill.

Political analysts however warned that the minister was assigning himself a mission impossible since most of the so-called “ghost workers” were Zanu PF activists put on the government payroll since the ruling party is broke and, recently, admitted owing creditors about US$11 million.

When presenting his 2015 national budget, Chinamasa said over 80 percent of government revenues would go to the administration’s wage bill, adding that most of the workers were being paid for doing nothing.

“What this means … basically is we are paying people to sit in their offices and not to undertake the operations,” he said then.

And addressing visiting World Bank officials in Harare Wednesday, Chinamasa said the planned staff audit will seek to ensure that government employs the right people for the right posts.

“The last audit carried out by former finance minister Tendai Biti was done in a poisoned political environment,” he said.

“The new audit will be carried out in a manner that is not threatening, people should justify why they are where they are.”

Commentators however, warned that the minister was likely to stir a hornet’s nest since most of those occupying government offices were political appointees.

“It will be good to see how Chinamasa will strike a balance between political interests and government’s need to cut the wage bill,” said political analysts Godwin Phiri.

“Almost everyone in government was employed based on political connections, so it will be difficult for him to flush out unwanted people. This is the reason why we have ghost workers everywhere.”

Chinamasa plans to cut the civil service next year as it emerged the cash-strapped government employs half a million workers, contrary to earlier estimates of about half that figure.

The audit will also come at a time when government has been urged by the International Monetary Fund to weed out “ghost workers” from their public sector in order free up money for capital expenditure.

Chinamasa could also run afoul of Zanu PF policies after the ruling party declared at its recent congress that more of its cadres would be deployed into government.

“To revive and strengthen its cadreship development policy, including structured and compulsory ideological programmes, for nurturing a broad human resources-base for deployment by the party into critical, strategic positions in both the party and Government,” the party said in resolutions at the end of the congress.

This is not the first time Zanu PF has pushed deployments on patronage basis.

Since the introduction of the national youth service, the ruling party has been deploying its members in all strategic positions like ZRP and the Zimbabwe national army as well as other institutions such as Zesa, Ziscosteel and Zupco.

And during the inclusive government era, Zanu PF deployed its supporters with military background in all state parastatals which however led to the rundown of these state institutions as a result of incompetent people managing them.

Former senior security personnel have also been deployed to parastatals and key state institutions in a move largely seen as an attempt by President Robert Mugabe to entrench patronage and loyalty, given the military’s often crucial interventions in propping him and his party up during elections.

Source : New Zimbabwe