The Harare City Council audit has revealed there are 650 ghost workers and the city fathers have moved swiftly to strike them off the payroll, mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said Friday.
The audit also showed the municipality was overstaffed by almost 5 000 people, most of whom were employed during the era of the commissions which used to run the city.
The city has more than 10 000 workers but should ideally employ not more than 5 000 people.
Masunda confirmed council had uncovered about 650 ghost workers who betrayed themselves by not reporting for work while the audit was going on and immediately had their salaries frozen.
“What I can tell you is that there are 650 persons who did not respond to the call to be at their respective work stations during the audit. I have since issued an instruction that electronic payments into their accounts be stopped,” he said.
The workers were expected to supply the audit team with their identity documents, education certificates and professional qualifications, among other things.
“There are also indications that the city is able and should operate efficiently with a much smaller number of employees than we currently employ,” he said.
Masunda said Harare would not terminate the employment contracts of excess staff, but would instead freeze recruitment and allow people to retire when they reach retirement age.
He said as revenue inflows improved, the city would put a voluntary retirement package for those willing to leave service. Harare is owed $140 million by ratepayers, $78 million of which is owed by the commercial sector while the government owes
The mayor said councillors would not victimise the excess staff and were shouldering the burden caused by their predecessors.
“This should not be mistaken to mean that we want to perpetuate the status quo,” Masunda said. “This was not put in place by us and we have been taking a lot on the chin, but the bottom line is that I’m the mayor and it will not help to say (to the workers) ‘go to Chombo, he is the one who put the systems in place’,” he said.
Masunda said in dealing with excess staff, he would not walk into a legal minefield by disrespecting labour laws, given that all employees were protected by the law.
“We will certainly not be arbitrarily relieving people of their jobs. It has to be a consensual process,” he said.
The MDC-T dominated council announced plans to embark on an audit in December last year.
The aim was to rid council of ghost workers and unqualified staff.
The councillors remained defiant even when Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo twice halted the exercise.