Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament yesterday that the government was carrying out an audit of the country’s pensioners to establish whether those who were being paid were still alive or not.
Reports that Zimbabwe is losing millions through the payment of ghost workers have been going on for years and one audit which was never made public said there were as many as 75 000 ghost workers.
Chinamasa said in his mid-term review this year that the government had paid more than $1.54 billion in salaries and pensions in the first half of this year and had outstanding payments totaling $181.6 million
The government was spending 83.4 percent of its budget on employment costs and intended to reduce this to less than 40 percent.
Legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga complained to Chinamasa about the way the pensioners were being treated in Bulawayo, where, she said, they were being forced to queue for long hours.
Chinamasa said the problem had been brought to his attention.
MR. CROSS: Mr. Speaker Sir, my question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Would he please confirm that an audit of the Government pensioners is currently underway; indicate what policy measures he has made to ensure that all pensioners are covered and that this process is conducted in an orderly fashion.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA): I thank the hon. member for his question and I want to confirm that yes indeed, an audit of pensioners list is being conducted. This is to establish whether or not the pensioners who are being paid are still alive or deceased.
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Can the Minister explain why in the process of trying to do that audit we have to bring these elderly people to stand in queues the whole day. I can give you an example that as we speak right now, some of these pensioners have been standing in queues in Bulawayo at Milton Park School with no food. They are there at 8:00 am and the people who do the audit take their time to have tea. Is there no other process that could have been used to do a head count of these pensioners because as you know, all of them are old and afflicted with a number of illnesses? I thank you.
MR. CHINAMASA: Yes, I got to know of that complaint. It was conveyed to my Ministry and we are looking into it with a view to rectifying the problem. Thank you.