US$4 million lost to ‘ghost workers’, Local Govt Ministry fleeced the most

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By Leopold Munhende

GOVERNMENT lost in excess of US$4 million through payment of ghost workers not through the Salary Service Bureau (SSB) but via line ministries’ payrolls, a recent report by Auditor General (AG) Mildred Chiri says.

A ghost worker is an unknown and unaccounted for employee who draws wages and benefits from the state.

According to the report, the Local Government and Lands Ministries top the list of those fleeced the most through amounts of US$1,889,899 and US$1,656,966 respectively.

SSB records indicate employment costs of US$1,059,163,623 against 10 ministries’ US$1,055,828,763 wage bill.

Other ministries implicated are; Labour (US$122,334), Health (US$1,283,704), Home Affairs (US$282,788), Higher and Tertiary Education (US$75,394), Industry and Commerce (US$583,994), Public Service (US$431,268), Energy (US$16,107) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission at US$16,553.

Government has over the past three years been battling the effects of ghost workers on its expenditure.

Last year, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube promised biometric registration on all government employees to weed out ghost workers with the project expected to have started on 1 January this year.

However, nothing meaningful has yet materialised.

Ncube’s plan was meant to reduce government expenditure on workers’ wages that account for 90% of its total revenue.

The plan followed scandal ridden parastatal, National Social Security Authority (NSSA)’s biometric registration programme of pensioners in 2017.

Then Public Service Minister Priscah Mupfumira disclosed that government was planning on reducing its 250,000 strong workforce by 70%.