Government accused of violating hiring freeze agreement

The IMF headquarters in Washington

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
03 January 2014

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has queried Zimbabwe’s commitment to a debt reduction plan after the government hired an extra 10,000 members of staff, contrary to what had been agreed on with the global lender.

The government signed up to the IMF plan last year June, the terms of which include implementing economic reforms such as freezing public service recruitment, and increasing diamond sector transparency.

If adhered to, the plan – known as the Staff Monitored Programme – is expected to help the country deal with its crippling external debt, estimated at $10 billion.

However, a progress review visit by the IMF team in November suggests that the ZANU PF government has violated the terms of this agreement, according to the NewsDay newspaper.

Quoting an IMF report, the newspaper said: “The Fund noted that the number of civil servants had increased by 10,000 between March 2013 and September 2013 and questioned the government’s commitment to the policy of a hiring freeze.”

Didymus Mutasa, ZANU PF’s national secretary for administration denied that his party had defied the agreement with the multi-lateral lender by hiring more staff.

“If the IMF could give us just two people they allege were employed during that period, then we can have a starting point,” NewsDay quoted Mutasa as saying on Friday.

Harare-based economist Godfrey Kanyenze said it was highly likely that ZANU PF was refuting the IMF report not just because they had breached the debt plan.

“It’s not just the violation of the recruitment freeze but also that the extra staff were neither hired procedurally nor earmarked for critical sectors such as health. The IMF is obviously basing its report on evidence gathered during its various consultations with relevant officials and bodies in Harare,” Kanyenze said.

“In any case, this will not be the first time that the government has violated a recruitment freeze. They breached one in 2008-2011 and hired an extra 75,000 security sector personnel,” Kanyenze added.

Last year, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti complained that public sector wages were chewing up $190 million of the $200 million of the government’s monthly revenue, as a result of extra security personnel that ZANU PF was clandestinely hiring.

The opposition MDC parties insist that ZANU PF used the extra security personnel to rig the July 31st election.

The country’s 236,000 public servants’ wage bill consumes 75% of the country’s budget. In his December budget speech, new Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was looking at reducing this to 55-65% by 2015 and to 30% by 2018.

Kanyenze said this was impossible unless the government disciplined itself and strictly followed sound economic policies.

He cited recent public service wage increases against a dwindling Treasury revenue base as some of the challenges that the government will have to confront.

The IMF scheme was expected to run until December 2013 but has now been extended taking into account the recently announced budget and to give ZANU PF time to implement its Zim Asset economic programme.

One Responseto “Government accused of violating hiring freeze agreement”

  1. Wilbert Mukori says:

    So in 2008 to 2011 government recruited 75 000 plus another 10 000 last year giving total of 85 000 additional security sector personnel (mostly CIOs).

    To start with Zimbabwe has always had a blotted security sector. At the very least, one third of the country’s 210 000 public servants in 2008, i.e. 70 000, were in the security sector. A sector whose top echelons of is full of staunch Mugabe and Zanu PF supporters. People like Police Commissioner
    Augustine Chihuri, Army General Chiwenga, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, etc., etc. all of whom have publicly said they will not accept any other government
    other than a Mugabe/Zanu PF led government. In other words their allegiance is to keep Mugabe and Zanu PF in power even if this is contrary to the democratic wish of the electorate.

    Second, the Zimbabwe economy is in serious trouble; it shrunk a staggering 84% in the six year period 2002 to 2008 alone; a world record for any nation not at war. As a rule the public sector does not produce any wealth, worst of all the security sector. So with the national economy in the doldrums it is the private sector, the wealth generating sector, that should be growing to spur the much needed economic recovery and not the public sector. Growing the public sector simply does not make any economic sense!

    Third and more significantly, why is Mugabe more than doubled the size of the security sector, particularly the shadowy and ruthless and feared CIOs? This was not just a stop-gap to help with the vote-rigging because Mugabe has already awarded the Chinese a $ 200 million contract to build a Spy-University. Mugabe is committed to turning Zimbabwe into a Police

    Key public services like health and education have all but collapse due to years of underfunding and neglect but not so with the Army, Police and CIO. Even at the height of the economic melt-down in 2008, Mugabe continued to buy weapons from countries like China by the ship-load. Zimbabwe will soon boast of having few teachers and even fewer medical doctors but plenty of spies spying on what the people say and do round the clock.

    Mugabe is turning Zimbabwe into the North Korea of Africa. If Mugabe is allowed to illegally stay in office; he rigged the July 2013 elections and is per se illegitimate; then by 2018 when the next elections are due, it will be too late to get him or Zanu PF out.

    Those who say the 2018 elections will be free and fair are not just naïve
    but are showing the characteristic lazy-mind that landed the nation into this mess! Mugabe is not going to implement any of the reforms, including security sector reforms, that are a prerequisite for free and fair elections; not now not ever. That is a political fact! Why should he?

    The only way Mugabe will be forced to accept the reforms is by forcing him to admit he rigged the 2013 elections and is therefore per se illegitimate. That is the only way out of this mess!

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