MARONDERA: PATRICK Zhuwao, the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, has vowed that some 10,000-plus ward youth officers employed by his ministry will not be retrenched.

The youths, said to have been employed on partisan lines by Zhuwao’s predecessor Saviour Kasukuwere and largely drawn from the ruling Zanu PF party make up most of the “ghost workers” critics want removed from the government’s bloated civil service establishment.

The government employs more than 500,000, according to treasury, and they take up 85 percent of State revenues in salaries, leaving precious little for capital projects.

The cash-strapped administration is under pressure to retrench, targeting first the so-called ghost workers.

“If you are a ghost worker, then you are not there. You should not be receiving a salary because you are not entitled to it since you are not working,” Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament this week.

But addressing officials from his ministry in Marondera Friday, Zhuwao said the 10,000 youth officers would not be retrenched.

“The youth officers will not go away despite attempts by some people to have them dismissed from government,” Zhuwao told civil servants who attended the meeting at Mbuya Nehanda Hall in Marondera.

Zimbabwe has 1,200 wards and, with the officers reported to be earning $380, this translates to a combined salary bill of over $3, 8m per month.

A report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service released in 2010 showed that the youth officers who are reported to be mostly Zanu PF activists, were employed in violation of Civil Service Commission rules which state that vacancies have to be advertised and relevant budgetary provisions made.

The parliamentary report also said that some of the names of the youth officers appeared more than three times on the ministry’s and the Salary Service Bureau’s databases while others had their salaries are deposited in one account.

Some Wards are said to have up to five youth officers each.

The youths have also been deployed  in government ministries where they are said to work as CIO informers amid complaints that heads of departments have no control over them.

Zhuwao however insisted that the youth officers were an important component of his ministry. He said they help ensure “easy accessibility of the ministry’s services in the communities they live”.

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