MDC Backtracks On Civil Service Audit

The ZANU PF militia seen here beating up opposition supporters in June last year are part of the 16 000 people Mugabe's party has put on government payroll. The men and women being beaten had paid their taxes in order to pay the salaries of these men. Isn't it ironic (with apologies to Sheryl Crow).

Harare, Zimbabwe, 19 November 2009

After the revelations yesterday about the refusal by the Public Service Commission of Zimbabwe to hand over their schedule of the civil service to World Bank Consultants, the MDC-T Minister in charge of the Public Service held a press conference where he effectively backtracked on his earlier demands. The World Bank will not be conducting the audit, after all.

The Minister, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, had written to Mariyawanda Nzuwa, the Chairman of the PSC, bemoaning the fact that he was refusing to comply with requests from the World Bank consultants hired by Tsvangirai to do the civil service audit.

"Such an approach by the PSC (the refusal to hand over information) is guaranteed to lead to serious and costly contractual infringements with consultants who are already on the station but spending days on end waiting for vital data that is being deliberately withheld for no cogent reason," Mukonoweshuro said in his letter to the PSC Chairman last month.

It also emerges now that the audit will cost US$4 million, but this is money that is put up by the World Bank, who are being refused access to the information they need. As I explained yesterday, the Public Service Commission had even reported the World Bank consultants to the Attorney-General, who backed the PSC and said they could only comply with the World Bank Consultants' requests if they were ordered to do this by Cabinet.

Of course, Cabinet, tightly controlled and chaired by Mugabe and Mugabe alone, was never going to agree to such a thing.

Yesterday, Mukonoweshuro told the media: "The World Bank never asked for the names of civil servants. Any such suggestion is total mischief and malicious.

But ZANU PF has now found another issue on which to distract attention from its failure to fully comply with the Global Political Agreement.They claim that Professor John Makumbe, a well-known MDC-T sympathiser, has been hired as the chief consultant and that this is unacceptable. Jonathan Moyo, very prone to suing people, has already said the matter should of Makumbe's appointment should be taken to court.

Also, instead of concentrating on the 16 000 ghost workers that ZANU PF has smuggled onto government payroll, the party now says the Civil Service Audit concentrate on exposing the "parallel government set up by the Prime Minister in his office."

The upshot of the MDC-T backtracking is that they now say the audit is no longer being carried out by the World Bank. Instead, Mukonoweshuro (the name means "Male Rabbit") has now said a local company CGI Consultancy, will carry out the exercise.

Being locals, it is, of course, easy for ZANU PF to bring pressure to bear on them and ensure that the audit does nothing but skim the surface. It will probably go the way of all the other audits carried so far, including the three land audits whose reports are gathering dust in the shelf behind Mugabe's green high-back chair at State House!



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