HARARE – Government will soon embark on biometric registration of civil servants to weed out ghost workers, Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira has told the National Assembly.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, government employs 300 000 workers, a number which does not include the army, air force, police and prisons.
Biometric registration involves capturing of one’s unique physical attributes such as fingerprints, DNA, iris and retina pattern.
“We are looking forward that this programme, which we have started with Nssa (National Social Security Authority) pensioners, will be extended to our government workers,” Mupfumira said.
More than 160 000 pensioners have so far been registered under the Nssa biometric registration programme aimed at curbing benefit fraud.
“For the past nine months, we were doing an exercise for pensioners to register.
“Outreach committees were going out and even to the media, educating people that by the 30th of September, all the people should have been registered.
“So far, over 170 000 people have registered. Last week when we closed the programme, there were 27 000 outstanding.
“By the beginning of this week, the number has reduced to 17 000, which means that people are still registering. What is at stake here is that we should inform people so that they register.
“Nssa cannot pay ghost pensioners. So, it is up to us to ensure that anyone who does not get their money in October should come back and get registered so that we see their finger prints and eyes because we want to curb corruption.”
The latest move came amid reports of thousands of ghost workers on government payroll that human rights groups claim are used by President Robert Mugabe to carry out programmes of his Zanu PF party and as shock troops against perceived opponents.
Mupfumira’s sentiments on civil servants biometric registration was in response to Harare Central MDC MP Murisi Zwizwai’s question on a reported 250 000 ghost workers on the government payroll.
In addition to ghost workers, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are also known to have rewarded supporters with appointment to non-existent jobs in the civic service.
In 2011, 75 000 ghost workers were unearthed in a comprehensive payroll and skills audit done by Ernst & Young India on behalf of the Public Service ministry.
Also, in 2016, the Auditor-General’s office confirmed 12 500 ghost workers were providing services to government, gobbling about $85 million annually yet they are not on its payroll.
In her audit report, AG Mildred Chiri also said that about 3 500 employees on the government payroll were unaccounted for, yet were drawing annual salaries worth about $81 million.
She said this was highly suspicious.
“…12 392 persons found to be rendering services and not appearing on the payroll are a committed expenditure translating to $81 147 840 per annum,” Chiri said in her report.
“It has been observed that 96 percent (11 813) of these members are from the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“This has the effect of distorting the payroll leaving the system open to abuse in the form of members being allowed to provide services without authority.”