Date published on SAFPI:
Thursday, 14 June, 2012
Date published on source:
Thursday, 14 June, 2012
Zimbabwe: Army recruits 4 600 illegally
Harare: Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday made a startling disclosure that the Public Service Commission had illegally recruited 10 000 staffers, among them 4 600 soldiers, between January and May this year without approval from Treasury. The move raised the civil servants’ salary bill by about $190 million. Biti told Parliament the illegal recruitment exercise had created serious problems especially in military barracks where food shortages had been recorded.
Biti had been quizzed by Epworth MP Eliah Jembere to explain if the massive recruitment in the army had been sanctioned by his ministry, considering government had just frozen all new public service appointments.
“Between January and May 2012, there has been an unlawful increase of about 10 000 employees in the Public Service Commission and tomorrow we will have a special Cabinet meeting on the economy and that will be one of the issues on the floor, and the two chief culprits are the Ministry of Defence, which employed 4 600 personnel since January 2012, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has recruited 1 200 personnel without Treasury approval,” Biti said.
“Permission was sought and we increased our discretion in respect of 24 000 temporary teachers and in respect of employees covered by the Health Services Board there was a net loss of 527 staff up to May 2012. This has created dislocations from a budget point and a wage bill increase of $190 million at a time when we are receiving only $230 million per month and when over 70% of our income is going towards one budget head, wages,” he added.
Biti said the unbudgeted staff increase had created problems because government was failing to even feed those soldiers in the barracks. “We have been unable to meet salaries and we owe hotel bills in excess of $700 000 and this is because of non-performance of the budget arising from the unlawful recruitment,” he said.
“As a result, money meant for NSSA (National Social Security Authority) and Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) was used to pay salaries for the extra people employed. We strongly accumulated arrears because their contracts had already been formed and even if they are illegal, they are now part of the force.”
Biti said indeed all recruitment in the public service had been frozen, including in agencies such as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Prison Service, except for circumstances where permission had been sought from the Finance ministry like the education and health sectors.
Biti said there was going to be a major revision of the budget as a result of the recruitments. “I am going to present the mid-term statement on Thursday, July 12 and the budget of $4 billion will undergo a major revision. Between January and May, we have failed to meet our revenue targets by $194 million and therefore the figure of $4 billion is going to be revised downwards,” he said.
“The reason why we failed to meet revenue targets was underperformance of diamonds. We were supposed to receive $240 million.”
Biti said as a result of drought, the country also lost 33% of its projected maize output, with only 900 out of a targeted 1,4 million metric tonnes expected to be harvested this year. He said the country had also missed its target of 150 million kg of tobacco with the new target now at 130 million kg.