The Sunday News
GOVERNMENT has begun restructuring the civil service on a large scale, with several ministries directed to shed thousands of posts immediately.
A manpower survey is also underway to determine the skill sets of civil servants earmarked for re-deployment, while a foreign service headcount has started. Once this is complete, Zimbabwe’s civil service will be structured along the lines of Malaysia’s which is renowned for efficiency and innovation.
A Government team that included Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda has been to the Asian country to study its systems. A 2015 probe unearthed thousands of redundant employees who were milking Zimbabwe’s Treasury of millions of dollars monthly.
The restructuring will shed 25 000 posts, with salaries and allowances of seniors officials such as Cabinet ministers being cut to bring the salary-revenue ratio to 30:70. The latest figures show that 97 percent of Government revenue is going to salaries.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said authorities would fully implement the 2015 Civil Service Audit Report recommendations on redeployments and abolishing certain posts. Minister Mupfumira said she and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa were leading a Cabinet Committee superintending implementation of those recommendations.
“We are going ahead with implementing all the recommendations in the report. Obviously, when we are implementing, some ministries will raise complaints. Therefore, if this happens, that particular ministry should approach our committee, which will, in turn, assess their appeal.
“For now, however, we are implementing. The Civil Service Commission is not going to entertain requests that have not gone through our committee. They are going ahead as per the report. We have had one such request from the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry over the number of extension workers required for Command Agriculture.
“The programme requires plenty of extension workers; that is why we have asked the Agriculture Ministry to sit down with the Civil Service Commission and review the structure so that the programme succeeds. The Transport and Infrastructure Development Ministry has also made a similar request. Further, you have seen that the recruitment freeze on some essential service ministries has been lifted. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is recruiting.”
Regarding the skills audit, Minister Mupfumira said, “The audit is being carried out to ascertain the exact skills of everyone working in the Civil Service. It’s all part of the (staff) rationalisation programme, and will witness some employees being redeployed.
“When we carried out the (2015 Civil Service Audit), we did not cover the foreign service. Therefore, we have started in that area and should have the report by month-end. It will detail the exact number of people in our (foreign) missions and what they are doing there.”
Minister Mupfumira said a delegation comprising Dr Sibanda, permanent secretaries and other senior Government officials was in Malaysia last month to study the Blue Ocean Strategy on Public Service Delivery Transformation.
The minister said Malaysia would provide Zimbabwe with technical assistance if it adopted the initiative that involves high impact planning and operations that deliver low-cost and rapidly executed prorgrammes.
However, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said, “Our Government must learn to consult so as to avoid unnecessary confrontation. How can they throw 25 000 people onto the street overnight?”
Nonetheless, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general Mr John Mlilo said his constituency supported staff rationalisation. “Ghost workers are known and those must be removed; not the ordinary workers. Again, our problem is our Government did not consult us, though we are a key stakeholder,” he said.
Human resources and labour expert Mr Memory Nguwi said the Government should outline the retrenchment criteria.
“There is nothing new with the retrenchments, but it has created a lot of anxiety because it’s the first time it is happening in the sector. Government was supposed to consult stakeholders before retrenching.”