Monday, 31 July 2017

ELDERLY CIVIL SERVANTS BEING ABUSED BY GOVT

Government is violating public service regulations by keeping in its employ bureaucrats who are way past their pensionable age, the Daily News can report.

Civil service regulations on pensionable age and retirement, state that a member appointed on pensionable terms of service before May 1, 1992, shall have a pensionable age of 65 years, while those appointed afterwards shall have a pensionable age of 60.

The regulations also provide that the “paymaster shall, on the 1st (of) June each year, provide all heads of ministry or department with a list of members who will reach the age of 55, 60 or 65 years during the ensuing year”.

“The commission may, when it is in the interest of the Public Service to do so, permit a member whose pensionable age is 60 to continue to serve beyond the age of 60 for periods not exceeding one year at a time, provided that such member shall retire at the age of 65 years,” reads part of the regulations.

Regardless, the public service now has a number of bureaucrats that have exceeded 65 years of age and should be enjoying retirement at their homes.

Topping the list is Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General who is over 70 years of age.
Mudede has been in charge of all elections held in Zimbabwe since 1981, amid accusations by the ruling Zanu PF’s rivals of ballot fraud favouring the governing party.

The country’s electoral processes are, however, now being overseen by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, headed by Rita Makarau. Mariyawanda Nzuwa, chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC), is also believed to be way above the pensionable age of 65.

Nzuwa became the public service chief on May 1, 1992, replacing Malcolm Thompson who retired after serving 11 years on the post. The chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, born in 1949, is another bureaucrat who should have long retired.

The former ambassador to China, assumed the post in 2003 following the retirement of Charles Utete, now late. An insider within the PSC said the trio should have been long retired if the law were to be followed.

“Only those that are employed in the private sector can go beyond 60 years as long as they are in agreement with their employers because the Labour Act is silent on that,” said the insider.

“This does not, however, apply to government workers who are governed by the civil service regulations and provides that one cannot go beyond 65 years”.

Labour lawyer Tendai Biti told the Daily News yesterday that the duo should, under normal circumstances, have left their jobs a long time ago but “they still exist for electoral reasons”.
“The two who are fast approaching 80 years, exist because they occupy two positions that help keep Zanu PF and (President Robert) Mugabe in power,” Biti said.

“Mudede is there so that he can tweak voter registration processes, while Nzuwa exists so that he can deal with government workers through employing ghost workers he is calling ward officers. You and I know that the so-called ward officers are Zanu PF militia who are being paid by government to do work for the ruling party,” said the former Finance minister, adding that “I actually wonder why lawyers have not challenged that in court.”
Nzuwa has been blamed for resisting calls for him to get rid of ghost workers from government’s payroll.

While efforts to get both Mudede and Nzuwa’s comments were fruitless, the former has previously denied allegations of falsifying voting records to ensure Mugabe remains in power.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mudede and Nzuwa were still in office because they are serving a political purpose.

“Of course, both men are a vital cog in the Zanu PF regime’s election rigging machinery and that’s the major reason why they are still holding their posts,” Gutu said.

“These two men are actually more powerful than most Zanu PF Cabinet ministers. Mugabe continues to pamper these two old men with plush incomes and other perks. That’s the main reason why Mudede periodically enjoys the very expensive past time of big game hunting. He can afford it. He shoots buffaloes and lions for fun”.

Nzuwa and Mudede are not the only government employees who have been rewarded by Mugabe by being kept on their jobs despite reaching the age of retirement.
In 2014, in the aftermath of the 2013 polls, Mugabe gave a new lease of life to military generals, many of whom were nearing the retirement age of 60.

Those who benefited from the extension included Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga and Air Force of Zimbabwe boss Air Marshal Perrance Shiri.
To keep them in their jobs, he gazetted a statutory instrument extending the retirement age for freedom fighters within senior ranks in the army to 65.

According to Statutory Instruments (SI) 134 and 135 of 2014, the new regulations by the Defence Forces Service Commission now allow officers who either are war veterans or have served continuously to retire at the age of 65.

“Provided that a member who is a war veteran as defined in the War Veterans Act (Chapter 11:15) (No 11 of 1992) shall continue to serve for further periods, not exceeding twelve months at a time, until he or she retains the age of sixty-five years,” the regulations say.
“A member who has continued to serve in terms of subsection (5) shall retire on attaining the age of 65 years.”

The country’s security chiefs and war veterans have been blamed by opposition parties for unleashing a reign of terror against MDC supporters in the run up to the 2008 presidential election run-off.

The ministry of Defence and the Defence Forces Commission have, however, had an amendment to the Defence Act, which will now see soldiers retiring at the age of 50, down from the previous 60, unless one has been asked to continue serving at the recommendation of the Defence minister.

That ministerial approval only comes at the request of the commander of the defence forces.

Government has since gazetted SI 50 of 2016 titled Defence (Regular Force) (Officers) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (No. 7), repealing the Defence Regulations SI 135 (No. 6) of 2014. Daily News

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