Let’s talk bread and butter issues

HARARE - It is known in journalistic scholarly work that the truth cannot be captured in its ontological state (state of being) and only God can access truth in this purified uncontaminated form but the various professional practices that are taught to every reporter like the need for professionalism, impartiality, balance and “truthfulness” are meant to ensure that the truth (epistemological) that the newspapers report on is different from fiction, propaganda or outright malice.

I have observed with interest the various reports that the state media carry on former Vice President Joice Mujuru and discovered that the news outlets, when it comes to Mujuru, do not exercise any form of professionalism and many a time drag her name into issues that have nothing to do with her.

It has become a normal obsession for the state media to scrounge for some negativity and attribute it to Mujuru using different and funny sources like Chief Fortune Charumbira of the infamous, superstitious and ridiculous allegation that Mujuru caused the drought that hit the country last year which left the country needing to import in excess of one million metric tonnes of maize to feed starving families mainly in the country’s rural areas.

It is now common knowledge, according to Goodson Nguni, that Information minister Jonathan Moyo is behind, or even the author, of these negative stories on the former vice president and even the attacks on the current vice presidents.

It probably seems Moyo just doesn’t like anyone other than him occupying that position no wonder why he had problems even with the late John Landa Nkomo whom he took to court at one time.

His obsession with attacking anyone in the position of vice president betrays his intentions to occupy that post himself thus he feels any incumbent is an inconvenience and a political foe.

In a country with the kind of economic and leadership crisis, shouldn’t our newspapers be concentrating on issues that are meant to end or expose the reasons and culprits that are responsible for dragging this country into the kind of economic crisis that we find ourselves in today?

The biggest challenge right now is that we have a national budget that is centred on providing money for civil servants salaries (80 percent of the budget) which means there is very little for infrastructure development, health care services, industrial development and investment in technology for the purpose of reviving the production side of the economy.

The state media has never questioned why a country with diamonds, platinum, gold, iron, copper, tin, coal, vast reserves of natural gas, among a myriad of other resources, is going to a semi-desert nation like Botswana whose human population is less than that of goats, as Moyo, mischievously puts it, to beg for money.

No one is interrogating why 80 percent of the country’s budget is used to pay salaries to civil servants? No one is asking questions why there are no foreign direct investors in the country.

I will answer the issue of civil servants and show why Mugabe was right to thwart the wrong solution that Moyo and Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of Finance, had proffered to ease the demand for money to pay civil servants by withdrawing their bonuses.

The solution was not to cut bonuses for civil servants but the panacea lies in the Ernest and Young audit report on the civil service which the cabinet, where both Moyo and Chinamasa sit, has been keeping since May 2011.

An independent audit of the Payroll and Skills in the ministry of Public Service was carried out by Ernst & Young dated November 10, 2010 and submitted to the government.

The audit team found amongst other irregularities that; the ministry of Public Service has on its payroll, 13 782 people who are not rendering any service to the government.

If one assumes that each of them is taking home an average $400 every month as a salary, then the government is losing $5 512 800 monthly on people that the audit team discovered were absent from their work stations without authorised leave or time off and were presumed to have retired, absconded, deceased or resigned.

The audit also reveals that the then minister of Youth Development Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere recruited 6 861 civil servants who were all appointed on May 26, 2008, which is, ironically, the time when militias were unleashed to beat up MDC supporters during the run-up to the June 2008 Presidential election run-off that the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai eventually pulled out of citing massive voter intimidation, mass murders of his supporters and condoning off rural areas from his campaign teams.

These militias who were recruited for political violence are still masquerading as civil servants and drawing about $2 744 400 every month in salaries.

There are also 90 cases of civil servants with different EC numbers but with the same National ID number and therefore should be considered the same civil servants potentially holding multiple civil service jobs, either in the same ministry or in different ministries. These would be gobbling $36 000 monthly in salaries.

The audit report also shows that there are 335 civil servants who a have duplicate Nssa ID number and one particular Nssa ID number 4775559 is found 91 times in the Data File.

But the most astonishing exposition by the audit is the fact that 75 273 civil servants, out of total of 188 091 employed in various ministries, do not have the requisite minimum qualification for their jobs as laid down by the Public Service Commission for the designated positions which means that about 40 percent of civil servants should be relieved of their duties because they were illegally appointed.

These illegal appointees are chewing $30 109 200 every month from the national budget and audit report revealed that the monetary loss of the highlighted problems is enormous, with an estimated 23 percent of the national budget for salaries being lost to these impostors.

It is these irregularities that Moyo and Chinamasa should be talking about not some fiction about a Mujuru that they have successfully haunted out of government. After all, Mujuru had successfully engaged Brazilian investors to inject $4,5 billion into the agricultural sector especially in fertiliser manufacturing and her efforts were scampered by Mugabe who dragged his feet on the proposal.

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