HomeLocal NewsGovt staff rationalisation could take years: Mupfumira

Govt staff rationalisation could take years: Mupfumira

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GOVERNMENT’s plan to reduce its bloated wage bill could take years because it is a “process”, Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira said yesterday.

BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA

Mupfumira told journalists on the sidelines of the extraordinary committee meeting for labour senior officials for English-speaking African countries yesterday that, while the government was cognisant of the unsustainable expenditure on salaries and wages, the process of rationalisation could not be abruptly implemented.

“We started at the end of last year and our plan is to reach a situation, where at least the government wage bill is about 40% of the country’s revenue rather than the situation we have, where between 80 and 90% goes to this purpose,” she said.

“This is an ongoing process and it will take years. We are supposed to be focusing on service delivery, so if all the revenue goes towards payment of revenue and salaries there will not be any development.”

Conservative estimates show that government spends over 90% of its revenue on its wage bill for about
500 000 workers amid allegations of the presence of ghost workers.

Mupfumira said the rationalisation was already underway and revealed she was a co-chairperson along with Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to find ways of dealing with the problem.

“We have reduced, where necessary, and increased for whatever reasons. For instance, some of the critical areas like agriculture, at the moment, with command agriculture, it means that extension officials become critical. Where we see that we are bloated or there is duplication, we are streamlining,” she said.

The government has promised international multilateral institutions that it is committed to reducing the size of its wage bill, but critics argue that President Robert Mugabe’s administration is hamstrung by political considerations given the looming election expected next year. It, therefore, remains to be seen if “reformists” in the government will have their way, given the constant heckling over plans to retrench among Cabinet ministers.

Meanwhile, Mupfumira was once again forced to fend off questions around partisan distribution of food aid. There have been reports of Zanu PF activists and traditional leaders aligned to the former liberation movement taking charge of food distribution in which suspected opposition members are cut off.

“We sent our mitigation teams into the provinces to assess and establish what must be done. I have nothing to regret or to be sorry for, we will give food to everyone regardless of political affiliation.

“Political affiliation is not an issue, but we assist where ever there is that need,” she said.

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