Time to weed out ghost workers

THE fact that the Zanu PF-led government has for the past 34 years failed to deal with the issue of ghost workers makes sad reading.

It is the clearest indication of how deep the rot in government is and how long ago Zimbabwe lost the idea of public service in pursuit of parochial interests.

A World Bank-funded report in 2009 revealed that Zimbabwe’s strong 236 000 strong civil service was pregnant with ghost workers, then as in now, government vehemently rejected the report.

Ghost workers, it was said, could have drained over $17,5 million per month from State coffers between 2008 and 2011.
The bloated civil service consumes over 70 percent of government revenue, leaving very little funding for growth-stimulating capital projects.

A comprehensive payroll and skills audit done by Ernst & Young (India) on behalf of the ministry of Public Service in 2010 shows that Zimbabwe’s civil service has been invaded by ghost workers, mostly untrained and unqualified Zanu PF militias and supporters who are drawing salaries without providing useful services.

The report shows there are 75 273 ghost workers out of 188 019 employed in various ministries. There are also 17 088 civil servants whose designations do not appear. About 1 315 civil servants are working without designation.

At least 8 723 civil servants’ qualifications could not be traced. About 188 019 civil servants were covered by the exercise, including 9 571 civil servants who were not in the database.
Out of this, 2 191 civil servants could not be enumerated as their records were not available.

This goes to show the extent of moral decadence and incompetence that the government with all the machinery at its disposal cannot prepare and keep a proper register of its less than two hundred workers and has merely taken to paying periodical lip service to the menace whenever it is convenient to do so.

Now the rot is extending to parastatals, private companies and other sectors of the economy. It is high time that as a nation we must do something to curb this phenomenon of ghost workers.
We believe workers’ salaries should be adjusted to reasonable levels so as to enable them regain their human dignity. Thereafter, a system of checks and balances should be put in place.

A progressive system of promotion and rewards for excellence should be put in place based on meritocracy instead of political and tribal affiliation and nepotism.

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