Zimbabwe, which hasn’t been able to pay its more than 300,000 state workers on time this year, will start firing employees at its agriculture ministry as it seeks to trim a civil service where wages absorb over 80 percent of government revenue.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday reported that 8,252 posts at the ministry, or 43 percent of its workforce, have been abolished, citing the Public Service Commission, which oversees government departments. The government has ordered a freeze on hiring and promotions across all departments, a finance ministry document obtained by Bloomberg shows.
“We’re aware of the recommendations that were made by the Public Service Commission because we had oral evidence from the permanent secretary who told us they were going to lay off workers, but we did not know that it was going to be this huge number,” Goodluck Kwaramba, chairman of Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Public Service and Labour, said in an interview.
Zimbabwe missed a self-imposed June deadline to pay arrears of $1.8 billion to lending institutions as it seeks to get financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank that can only resume when its debts are paid. The economy has halved in size since 2000, a shortage of cash has seen withdrawals limited from automated banking machines and the economy is suffering deflation due to a plunge in consumer demand.
“This retrenchment is part of the re-engagement effort with the IMF,” Prosper Chitambara, an economist at the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute, said in an interview.
Phone calls to the commission and to Deputy Agriculture Minister Paddy Zhanda weren’t answered when Bloomberg sought comment Wednesday. Questions e-mailed to the commission weren’t immediately responded to.