Felex Share Senior Reporter—
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has frozen the rationalisation exercise in the public service which sought to cut Government’s wage bill, it has emerged. CSC chairperson Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah yesterday said the freeze would remain in place until the commission gets guidance from Cabinet. This comes after youths, together with Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao, last week complained to President Mugabe that thousands of young people were facing retrenchment from Government.
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The President then ordered the reinstatement of the youth officers.
It emerged yesterday that the intention to retire 3 187 youth officers was part of the civil service rationalisation exercise approved by Cabinet in November 2015.
The affected youths did not have the requisite qualifications.
Some had no, or had less than five Ordinary Level passes, while others only had Grade Seven certificates.
Their ages ranged from 25 to 64 years and the majority of the youth officers were between the ages of 30 and 40 years.
Another 155 youth officers deemed “excess” by the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, but qualified, were redeployed by the Civil Service Commission.
Said Dr Nzuwah: “I was given instructions by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister (Prisca Mupfumira) last week to freeze any action on the rationalisation exercise until further instruction.
“I immediately instructed all organs in Government involved to stop it. We have frozen everything pending further instruction from the minister who consults the appointing authority (President Mugabe). Nothing is being done until we get instructions to proceed or not. It is sad that some sections of the media say the minister is disobeying the President.
“She has already implemented the decision made by the President in Chinhoyi. She came back (from the rally) and we were communicating and she told us to stop and we complied.”
The rationalisation emanated from a CSC audit ordered by Cabinet two years ago.
The audit was meant to guide Government in the implementation of key reforms in the public service sector.
It had recommendations aimed at reducing the Government wage bill by $400 million annually.
Drastic measures like the reduction of student teachers and trainees’ allowances, resuscitation of pension contributions and termination of salaries paid to teachers at private and trust schools had been operationalised.
Vacant posts were abolished, under-used staff was redeployed, funding of bridging courses had been scrapped while workers abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers were charged.
Dr Nzuwah said the affected youth officers, who were chewing $1,6 million monthly, had not yet been discharged.
He said Government would not fire any employee without him or her making representations.
“We do not just retire someone arbitrarily. It is not a brutal exercise,” Dr Nzuwah said.
“We were sent by Cabinet and we gave proposals. We are just a technical organisation implementing what Cabinet is aware of.
“The commission communicates the intention to retire someone, but we won’t implement until the affected employee makes a presentation within 14 days. Some officers agree to get retired and others will put forward their explanations and we will consider that again.”
Minister Mupfumira weighed in saying no one would be discharged from Government without being given notice and terminal benefits. She said Treasury stopped paying the said youth officers in July last year but the commission continued meeting their salaries to avoid labour disputes.
“The commission, being aware of the law, has been mobilising resources to pay them and is about to pay them their July salaries,” she said.
“The law is clear. You engage an officer in Government and from the day you engage them you are required to compensate them until the day they are officially disengaged by the Civil Service Commission, the employer not by Treasury. If we fail to observe the law, the courts will reinstate the officer/s with costs. If someone says there is no money, it (commission) has an obligation to ensure that officer is paid as long as he or she has done the day’s work and there is proof.”
She went on: “Although the commission never received any cent from Treasury beginning July 2016, it has been paying through its own savings. Even if the decision is to let them go after making their presentations, we still have to do the due process of giving them the three months’ notice and their terminal benefits. We have to meet the President first but for now we have to stop until we clarify the issue with him. Our mandate is to protect people not to discard them.”
It is understood that about $3,8 million is required to pay the youths notice of intention while another $12,8 million would be needed for terminal benefits.
Treasury had already granted concurrence on the termination of youth officers’ contracts.
Minister Mupfumira said no one was being ambushed on the issue of the youth officers as there was communication between the respective Ministries and CSC.
The civil service rationalisation exercise is in line with the Zim-Asset Public Administration, Governance and Performance Management sub-cluster, which is guided by the Results Based Management System and focuses on budgeting and resourcing, public sector modernisation and civil service reform, fostering good governance and building capacities for public sector institutions.