Government is merging some departments with duplicate functions, redeploying numerous workers and cutting transport allowances for hundreds of others as it begins implementing recommendations contained in the 2015 Civil Service Audit.
Transport allowances for civil servants benefiting from Government’s free daily bus service will be cut and the money channelled towards fleet maintenance. The allowance review could be implemented as early as this month.
Office orderlies (Grade B1) and teachers (and other Grade D5 workers) get at least US$100 and US$116 in monthly transport and housing allowances.
Information gathered by the news team shows that the ministries of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services; and Tourism and Hospitality Industry have collapsed “unnecessary” departments.
Though the affected departments could not be immediately identified, they could be merged and excess staff reassigned to fill vacancies elsewhere in the State bureaucracy. The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has begun redeploying at least 121 idle extension officers who were “operating” in urban areas.
Auditors determined during their countrywide physical head-count that several extension officers were duplicating duties. Our Bulawayo Bureau reports that teachers are also being transferred to different rural workstations.
Cabinet directed all ministries to examine the Audit Report’s recommendations and give feedback by month-end. Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira said Cabinet could adopt the Report before September is out.
“Cabinet has referred the recommendations to individual ministries who, we believe, are all studying this Report. All ministries are consulting with the relevant departments under their purview with a view to coming up with a global position on that particular ministry. We expect all ministries to have completed consultations by October. Only then can we begin implementing recommendations in their entirety.
“The Agriculture Ministry reported to Cabinet that they have begun aligning their staff structures with what was recommended by auditors. So, that ministry has taken the lead in that respect, and we expect other ministries to soon begin reporting what they will have done or will be doing.”
Minister Mupfumira said authorities would review the position on free transport in keeping with a plan to purchase new buses and maintaining the existing fleet.
“Government introduced the buses at a time when workers were not on salaries, but on an allowance only. The rationale was that since they were not receiving any transport allowance, Government should then provide them with transportation free of charge.
“Today, the situation has changed and all the workers now earn a salary and transport allowances. We are discussing with the Apex Council (the platform for Government and civil service workers representatives’ negotiations) to agree on a reasonable amount a worker could pay for the service.”
Government wants to streamline its labour costs as State salaries are gobbling 83 percent of revenue, inhibiting capacity to steer socio-economic development.
In the first half of 2015, Treasury spent US$1,54 billion on labour against revenue of US$1,718 billion.
Monthly, US$120 million is spent on salaries, with the least-paid taking home about US$380.
The Civil Service Audit established that chief labour cost drivers were flagrant abuse of overtime allowances and leave days, salary fraud, idle manpower, role duplication and uncoordinated staff recruitment.
Government has 188 070 workers, excluding the uniformed forces and Health Services Board personnel. It was determined that some district education officers transferred and recruited teachers without the Salary Services Bureau’s knowledge. Around 3,000 teachers were not at their workstations during the head-count.
The Audit Report recommends centralised staff recruitment, merging some departments, streamlining roles/functions of remaining departments and cutting salary support to grant-aided institutions.
It also suggests scrapping manpower development benefits, curtailing promotions and withholding salaries of the 3 000-plus absentee civil servants caught out by the audit. Leave days will be monitored and anyone linked to salary fraud will be disciplined. Auditors project savings of nearly US$400 million if all these measures were implemented.