In a bid to reduce the wage bill, government has launched a witch hunt for ghost workers in all departments, a development which was welcomed by main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and workers' unions, saying it would go a long way in improving the current financial woes. There are over 80 000 ghost workers according to the former Minister of Finance Tendai Biti during the inclusive government.
The development also came at a time when government has failed to put together civil servants' salaries for June, with most of them scheduled to get their dues mid-July save for the army, police and the prison officers.
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Priscilla Mupfumira confirmed the development saying the rationalisation at the lower government departments is aimed at making sure that there were no ghost workers in the system who are milking the State dry.
"The ministry has embarked on a rationalisation process to try and reduce the number of staff at government departments and making sure that there are no ghost workers in the system since the government has no money to cater for the huge wage bill," said Mupfumira.
MDC-T National Spokesperson Obert Gutu however attacked the government for starting the exercise at lower departments saying there are also ghost workers in high offices who are getting hefty salaries and allowances who should be weeded out.
"Rationalisation is not bad if it is done properly. It should be done from the top to bottom beginning with Mugabe himself, he must go. We have been consistent as MDC-T about these ghost workers but I am happy that Zanu-PF has finally felt the pain and they are correcting the anomaly," said Gutu.
"We have a big government which we believe should be cut by one third. The bloated cabinet is made up of ministers who earn hefty amounts yet they are not productive. As a party which has the interest of the workers at heart, we will fight for the protection of workers. Zanu-PF promised two million jobs but they have destroyed jobs instead, and they want to do it again," said Gutu.
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said the Public Service is run by inept and incompetent people who should be the first to be fired.
"The question is not about rationalising lower departments because these guys are not a huge cost. The real problem is that the government is made up of too many ministries.
"They have to cut the number of ministers because some of the ministries are just created by Zanu-PF to reward themselves. Look at the Ministry of Education, it has been divided into Higher and Tertiary, Primary and Secondary and Psychomotor, yet one minister can handle all that," Dr Zhou said.
"I don't see why government appoints Deputy Ministers when they do not do anything. They just get paid for doing nothing. A Deputy Minister will never be an Acting Minister for one day so why do we need them? This is where most of the money is being spent and the Public Service has to deal with this issue first before coming to the grassroots," he added.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) Secretary-General Japhet Moyo also slammed the government for failure to protect the workers.
"Restructuring is done in many organisations but we have to do it with a human face. I have always asked whether there is no way of restructuring without the loss of jobs. We have a very big government, why can't they start from the top to bottom? Our deepest fear is that workers are going to be unfairly treated," said Moyo.news