Makumbe advises World Bank on civil service audit


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University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe is advising the World Bank on efforts to audit the civil service, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

The cable says Makumbe estimated that the non-security sector of the civil service comprised 180 000 employees of which two-thirds were teachers.

These figures contained “ghost workers” who received salaries but did not hold positions.

Makumbe was being quoted at the height of a strike by civil servants who were demanding basic salaries of more than $500 a month from $150.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 10HARARE110, STRIKE IN ZIMBABWE HITS EDUCATION HARDEST

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

10HARARE110

2010-02-11 06:38

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0979

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0110/01 0420640

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 110638Z FEB 10

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0045

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHMCSUU/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0022

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0022

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0022

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000110

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR BRIAN WALCH

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L. DOBBINS AND J. HARMON

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

LABOR FOR SUDHA HALEY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ELAB PGOV SOCI PREL PHUM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: STRIKE IN ZIMBABWE HITS EDUCATION HARDEST

 

————–

 

SUMMARY

 

————–

 

 

 

1. (SBU)   Some government employees, including teachers, began a

labor action on February 5 in demand of higher wages, improved

working conditions, and price cuts at government-controlled

essential utilities. The greatest impact of the strike has been

felt in the education sector, as teacher absenteeism has resulted

in school closures in both urban and rural areas.   Hospitals

remain open and are functioning normally, while some government

offices, including courts in Harare, are closed. END SUMMARY.

 

 

 

——————————————— ———————-

—————————

 

The Strike’s Impact on Education, Healthcare, and Government

Offices

 

——————————————— ———————-

—————————

 

 

 

2. (SBU) Government workers initiated a strike on February 5 with

about 2,000 demonstrators gathering peacefully in Harare’s Unity

Square. Police observed but did not disrupt the event. University

of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe, who has advised the World Bank

on efforts to audit the civil service, estimates that the

non-security sector civil service comprises 180,000 employees, of

which two thirds are teachers; these figures contain “ghost

workers” who receive salaries but do not hold positions. Makumbe

believes that teachers have accounted for the vast majority of

striking government workers; the strike has resulted in the closure

of two thirds of all public schools. (NOTE: An Embassy employee

who visited the town of Marondera in Mashonaland East on February 9

confirmed that all six of the town’s schools were closed, and

school closures within Harare are widespread. END NOTE.)

 

 

 

3. (SBU) A joint statement produced by the Zimbabwe Teachers

Association (ZIMTA), the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe

(PTUZ), and the Public Service Association (PSA), urged the

inclusive government to convene an urgent meeting with APEX, the

primary negotiating body for civil servants, in an effort to end

the strike. The statement followed a series of negotiations that

broke down on February 2 after civil service unions rejected a

US$16 per month wage increase. The two sides appear miles apart,

as the Herald reported that the unions were demanding approximately

US$500 on February 5. That figure was a reduction from a previous

request of about US$600. PTUZ Secretary General Raymond Majongwe

told us his union would accept US$300 per month. Currently, the

lowest paid civil servants earn US$150 per month.

 

 

 

4. (SBU) ZIMTA’s CEO, Sifiso Ndlovu, told us on February 9 that

at least 50 percent of the union’s 44,000 members were currently on

strike, and he estimated in the urban areas of Harare, Bulawayo,

Bindura, and Chinhoyi, that the number exceeded 70 percent. PTUZ

reported that their 16,000 members were also striking and estimated

90 percent participation. (COMMENT: While participation is high,

both these estimates are likely exaggerated figures.   Anecdotal

reports indicate that many teachers that receive substantial salary

supplements from parents are not participating. These teachers are

predominantly located in more affluent urban neighborhoods. END

COMMENT.) PTUZ Programs Communications and Information Officer

Oswald Madziwa said that his organization joined the strike knowing

 

HARARE 00000110 002 OF 002

 

 

full well it would not result in meaningful pay raises because the

GOZ does not have the resources. Rather, their motivation was to

highlight key issues and press for action over the failure to raise

funds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields and the high rates charged

by electric, phone, and water utilities. He said his organization

believed ZANU-PF was fanning the flames of the strike, via its

control of the state media, to further its arguments that sanctions

have undermined the economy.

 

 

 

5. (SBU) While some press reports are claiming that junior

medical staff are on strike, Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA)

Secretary General Dr. Tapuwanashe Bwakura told us that the Harare

public hospitals (Parirenyatwa, Harare, and Chitungwiza General),

were fully functioning. We also spoke to Dr. Mbongeni Ndlovu, a

Consultant Physician and Head of Medicine at Bulawayo’s Mpilo

Hospitals, who said that the two main hospitals in Bulawayo (Mpilo

and United Bulawayo) were also running normally. Ndlovu believed

that the prevailing sentiment in Bulawayo was that the strike would

not lead to increased salaries as people understood that the GOZ

did not have the funds to grant meaningful pay raises. One nurse

with whom we spoke at Harare Hospital said that the nurses were not

striking, nor had their union requested them to do so.

 

 

 

6. (SBU) Some government offices were closed on February 10,

including the Central Registry in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the

public service ministry, the education ministry, as well as local

administrative offices in Bulawayo and Gweru. The Supreme Court,

High Court, and the Harare Magistrates Court were also closed. The

court closures have delayed numerous politically sensitive hearings

including the High Court trial of MDC-T Treasurer Roy Bennett and a

bail hearing of three MDC councilors in Banket who were arrested

two weeks ago on charges of killing a ZANU-PF councilor. (NOTE:

Certain classes of government workers, including the police, are

categorized as “essential services” under Zimbabwe’s labor laws,

which makes it substantially harder for them to engage in labor

actions. END NOTE.)

 

 

 

————–

 

COMMENT

 

————–

 

 

 

7. (SBU) At this point, the strike’s impact has largely been

limited to the education sector. Educational workers are

particularly vulnerable as they have not received additional salary

support from donor groups. Some healthcare workers, including

certain classes of doctors and nurses, have benefitted from donor

sponsored “top-up” payments, which appear to have lessened their

need to participate. It is likely that ZANU-PF will try to spin

the strike as evidence of the inability of the MDC, which heads the

finance and education ministries, to deliver. END COMMENT.

RAY

(42 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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