Audit shuts door on contract teachers

Minister Mupfumira

Minister Mupfumira

Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Thousands of teachers whose contracts were not renewed will only be considered for employment if vacancies arise after the rationalisation of the teaching establishment being done by Government, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, has said.This follows media reports that Government had fired over 3 000 qualified teachers this term by refusing to renew their contracts. Minister Mupfumira yesterday said the 2015 Civil Service Audit report revealed that there were 5 588 teachers over the authorised establishment. She said continuous engagement of educators on contracts would unnecessarily increase the Government wage bill.

“Following the adoption and approval of the Civil Service Audit Report findings and recommendations by Cabinet on November 17, 2015, the Civil Service Commission at its meeting of December 15, 2015 directed that the secretary for Primary and Secondary Education should first reconcile the staffing in schools before submitting requests for the Commission’s consideration,” Minister Mupfumira said.

“Despite the over establishment, the Commission has allowed the recruitment of teachers in critical manpower shortage areas such as science and mathematics in all 10 provinces.”

The audit report, carried out by the CSC at the instruction of Cabinet, will guide Government in the implementation of key reforms in the public service sector. It has recommendations, some which have taken effect, that are expected to plug unnecessary costs that had pushed the civil service wage bill to unprecedented levels. Minister Mupfumira said extensions of contracts would be done if there were vacancies.

“It is a fact that a contract is renewed where there is a vacancy,” she said.

“They will be considered if there are gaps. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary education is rationalising over establishment in schools everywhere in the country before considering any new appointments, conversions and extensions of terms of employment. The continuous engagement of the teachers without rationalising overstaffing has a net effect of increasing the wage bill, since the overstaffing situation remain unresolved.”

She added: “We do not want to have the same situation we had before the audit. We will not rush to hire anyone again and it is a matter of time before the parent Ministry completes reconciling its establishment.” Most of teachers who were being engaged on contracts left Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2008 when the country faced sanctions-induced economic hardships.

The country’s economic situation has improved since 2009 and the educators are now trooping back. Government intends to reduce its wage bill by more than $400 million annually by implementing recommendations of the civil service audit report.

Already drastic measures like the reduction of student teachers and trainee’s allowances, resuscitation of pension contributions and termination of salaries paid to teachers at private and trust schools have been operationalised.

All vacant posts have been abolished, bus fare for civil servants has been re-introduced, under-used staff is being redeployed, funding of bridging courses has been scrapped while all members who were abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers have been charged.

The rationalisation exercise is also heading towards other sectors such as Judicial Service Commission, Defence Forces Service Commission, Police Service Commission, Prisons and Correctional Service Commission and the Heath Service Board where the CSC has no mandate to conduct any stock-taking.

Only members governed by the Public Service Act (Chapter16:04) were audited and they chew about 29,9 percent of the budget.

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