The civil servants audit has come under spotlight following revelations that serving employees in government institutions in Bulawayo are listed as part of the 75 000 ghost workers.
Panic has gripped government departments in the city after serving doctors, nurses at major hospitals and clinics had their names included in the list.
Government instituted a payroll and skills audit with the assistance of auditors from Ernst and Young of India to weed out ghost workers.
The audit report was finalised in November last year and was forwarded to Cabinet in December.
Although the release of the audit report has been blocked by Cabinet, Finance minister Tendai Biti says government is splashing $960 million per year on civil servants’ salaries, much of which is going to ghost workers.
Biti said if the non-existent employees were flushed out, the government would save over $17,6 million.
A government team visited United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) on Wednesday to carry out a similar exercise revealing the names of the alleged ghost workers and was expected at Mpilo Central Hospital on Thursday.
Apart from health workers, other civil servants from various government departments are reportedly listed as non-existent workers.
“We want the problem solved like yesterday because we are still serving, but we are listed as ghost employees,” fumed a doctor who cannot be named for professional reasons.
The problem emerged largely at government hospitals where doctors and nurses are listed as ghost workers.
The list has since been made public at government departments where the audit has been heavily criticised.
Interestingly, the Public Service Commission (PSC), early this year strongly criticised the audit saying the auditors ignored their terms of reference.
“The audit has raised serious eyebrows because the majority of workers at Mpilo and UBH in Bulawayo are named in the list.
“All workers have been shown the report for verification,” said a senior doctor whose name also appears on the list.
There are about 250 000 civil servants on the government payroll and the issue of ghost workers has been the one of the most contentious discussed during salary negotiations.
Civil servants are pressing for a minimum salary of $502 per month, but government is pleading bankruptcy.
Over the years, civil servants — who are earning about $300 per month — have unsuccessfully gone on strike protesting “slave wages”.
Public Service minister Lucia Matibenga could not be contacted for comment yesterday as she was unreachable on her mobile phone while her deputy Andrew Langa’s phone went unanswered several times.