Zimbabwe government could be having 70000 'ghost' workers
The civil service audit has revealed that there could be as many as 70 000 "ghost" workers on the government payroll impacting heavily the state's already dry coffers, union leaders said on Thursday.
Furious civil servants, who this week rejected a government offer to increase their allowances by between $20 and $25, said they were informed of the scandal by officials at the Ministry of Public Service and other civil servants involved in the audit.
There are about 250 000 civil servants on the government pay-roll. It also emerged that the issue was one of the most contentious ones discussed during salary negotiations between the government and workers' unions on Wednesday, as the unions felt ghost workers were eating heavily into the government wage bill.
"The audit has revealed that there are about 70 000 ghost workers. It is a fact. Civil servants were actually involved in compiling that report and they reported those issues to us.
"Officials at the ministry also confirmed this," said Takavafira Zhou, the president of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said although he had not seen the report, senior government officials revealed there were up to 70 000 ghost workers.
"We were told that there are between 45 000 and 70 000 people who could not be traced and that is a big problem because they are eating into the civil servants' money. We also had discussions as workers' representatives with (Public Service) minister (Eliphas) Mukonoweshuro and (finance) Minister (Tendai) Biti and those figures were confirmed," he said.
Mukonoweshuro confirmed on Thursday the audit report was out but declined to divulge the contents saying it was now before cabinet and could therefore not discussed with the Press because his hands were tied.
He said the audit report was finalised in November last year and was forwarded to cabinet in December.
"It's now going through a cabinet process and I'm sure you know of the Official Secrets Act which does not allow me to discuss the matter with the Press. The cabinet will deliberate on the report and I will make a presentation in the House of Assembly and also hold a press conference when the time comes."