Zimbabwe to go ahead with plans to trim civil service – Mugabe

Zimbabwe to go ahead with plans to trim civil service – Mugabe

By Kuda Chideme and Plaxedes Sibanda, HARARE, December 6 (The Source) – President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday said his government will go ahead with plans to streamline the civil service following a recent audit by the Public Service Commission.

Zimbabwe has a bloated civil service, estimated at 298,000, which currently accounts for 97 percent of government expenditure.

The southern African country operates a cash budget funded entirely by taxes and multilateral lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have said they will only resume supporting Zimbabwe once it clears its debts with the global lenders.

Harare cleared the IMF arrears of $108 million in October, but still owes $1,8 billion to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

In September, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed to cut 25,000 state jobs among a raft of other measures which would save the cash-strapped government at least $335 million annually but the proposal was shot down by Cabinet.

Chinamasa said government was likely to run a budget deficit of over $1 billion this year without reforms.

In his State of the Nation Address, Mugabe said government had adopted the audit report which recommends centralizing recruitment and merging some departments.

“The Public Service Commission is currently implementing a number of structural reforms including the abolition of redundant and vacant non-critical posts. It is also in the process of rationalizing the duplications and overlaps of functions between and among some line ministries and is carrying out job re–engineering, job enrichment and multi-skilling,” he said.

“The resultant effect would be a leaner and flatter structures that are economic and would thus enhance effective and quality service delivery.”

In March this year, the Commission said reforms would save the struggling government $400 million annually.

Mugabe’s 34-minute speech did not touch on recent currency reforms, which saw the introduction of bond notes.

Zimbabwe launched the bond notes on Monday last week over widespread opposition and fears over a backdoor return of the much loathed local currency.

The government hopes the notes will help ease the critical shortage of dollar notes, despite warnings they could cause hyperinflation.

Mugabe praised the country’s June 20 ban on imports which he said had enhanced local production and improved the efficient use foreign exchange.

“A number of local companies in the plastics, packaging and food manufacturing sector that include Tregers, Nampak, Proplastics and several others have been the immediate beneficiaries of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016,” he said.