GOVERNMENT has lifted the ban on the hiring of more civil servants, a development which will see it recruit recruit more teachers and nurses next year, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told Parliament recently.
Civil servants, however, criticised Ncube for ignoring their demands for better salaries in order to cope with the rising cost of living.
Government imposed a hiring freeze in 2014 as part of measures to manage its huge wage bill which at one time was chewing 75% of the budget.
Ncube told MPs during a debate on the Finance Bill that Treasury had waived the job freeze.
“It should also be noted that the 2022 national budget seeks to address key national events such as the national census preparatory work, the 2023 harmonised elections, and now we have got the by-elections, I guess they will be coming out at some point in 2022,” Ncube said.
“Furthermore, Treasury prioritised effective delivery of various government ministries by allowing them to fill vacant posts in spite of the general freeze.
:We have a freeze but we still allowed certain posts to be filled because this was really critical, especially in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, and the National Prosecuting Authority, among others — the freeze was waived.”
But civil servants’ representatives yesterday said unfreezing the civil service posts would not address poor service delivery in government departments as low wages were demotivating workers.
“We need decent salaries that have a buying capacity,” Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Enock Dongo said.
“We are understaffed, yes, but nurses are not willing to be employed in government because the salaries are very low. They would rather look for greener pastures abroad.
“Instead of recruiting more nurses, government should at least ensure that those that are already serving have been given decent salaries and the necessary incentives to motivate them, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic where nurses are risking their lives to serve the people.”
Economist Gift Mugano said: “The issue of poor service delivery in government institutions is not wholly influenced by staff shortages. We have some ministries that have enough workers already but they are malfunctioning.
“Government needs to address the aspect of remuneration. That alone is demotivating its workers. Teachers, for instance, at one point were attending duty for two days per week, but it was not because of understaffing. They were demanding better wages which government should address.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is government availing the required personal protective equipment for its workers and other motivating incentives? Government should deal with the real elephant in the room to address poor service delivery.”
But Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) secretary-general Goodwill Taderera applauded the move, saying there was need to employ more teachers to address the teacher-pupil ratio, which was crippling service delivery in the education sector.
“We really need more teachers in the education sector. As it is right now, at some learning institutions, teachers are working under a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:70. This needs to be addressed to allow every pupil to have equal access to education.
“I know government has the capacity to pay its employees decent salaries. It is corruption that is bleeding our economy that has resulted
in government failing to pay us meaningful wages.
“If government harnesses all the financial leakages to corruption, it can still employ more workers and pay all of them handsomely,” Taderera said.