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Ministers rapped for ‘straining wage bill’

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
CIVIL Service Commission chairperson Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah yesterday accused some Government ministers of arm-twisting the commission by demanding the recruitment of staff to serve under their portfolios thereby further bloating the workforce and straining the wage bill.

This comes as the CSC said it abolished more than 22 000 vacant posts late last year, as part of efforts to contain the wage bill.

Giving oral evidence yesterday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare chaired by Chirumhanzu legislator Cde Kizito Chivamba, Dr Nzuwah said each time a new minister is appointed he or she wants to bring their own staff from outside the civil service structure, despite there being a pool of employees that the commission could draw from.

“The other day, I was ridiculed by President Mugabe that I am the one who is responsible for the bloated civil service. The President said he only appointed ministers, deputies and permanent secretaries and it is myself who employs the rest of the civil service. But the problem is, once a minister is appointed, he wants to bring his own staff,” said Dr Nzuwah.

“I have had phone calls from ministers including provincial affairs ministers. There are 10 and they would come to you and say, ‘I was appointed by the President and I want a personal secretary, I want a director or deputy director to coordinate activities in the province so that I can effectively discharge my duties’. If you tell them that it is the role of the district administrator, they will tell you that DAs belong to (former Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatius) Chombo, or (Saviour) Kasukuwere (the present Minister ).”

He said following the civil service audit, they had since abolished 22 000 vacant posts serve for those that were critical.

Dr Nzuwah said during their audit, they had noted several anomalies that included people earning salaries while they were working in the Diaspora, with some teachers drawing salaries while they were teaching at private schools.

“Headmasters were awarding teachers appraisal marks as high as 80 percent despite the fact that no pupil would have registered a pass at Ordinary Level, while other schools closed two weeks before official dates,” said Dr Nzuwah.

Ms Ronia Bunjira (MDC-T) asked why Government was not remitting deductions like medical aid, maintenance and mortgage instalments among others.

The CSC secretary, Mrs Pretty Sunguro, said Treasury had unilaterally withheld deductions without consulting them but they had advised them that it was illegal.

“If you would be privy to the confrontations that we have with our colleagues in Treasury, you would understand our concern,” said Mrs Sunguro.

Dr Nzuwah said the CSC had recommended that Premier Service Medical Aid Society be restored to its original status when it was formed — that of being owned by Government employees.

He said the audit report, if fully implemented, would result in $400 million per year being saved.

He said there was rampant duplication of duties among ministries, something he said they had started working on.

“You have an Agritex officer in Borrowdale, what is his role?” asked Dr Nzuwah.

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