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What Happened To The Biometric Registration Of Civil Servants?

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Policeman sitting

In November last year, Mthuli Ncube made it clear that there would be a biometric registration of civil workers in order to weed ghost workers.

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Mr Speaker, Sir, previous Civil Service Audits undertaken by Government in 2011 and 2015, respectively, point to possible existence of ghost workers in the service, who are contributing to the burgeoning public service wage bill which accounts for over 90% of total revenues.

Clearly, this goes against the thrust of re-orienting Budget expenditures towards growth enhancing and poverty-reducing developmental programmes and projects through rationalisation of the Public Service Wage Bill.

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Mr Speaker Sir, to weed out these ghost workers, I propose to introduce a biometric registration of all civil servants, with effect from 1 January 2019. The registration process will be rigorous and will involve capturing data on Letter of Appointment, Academic and Professional Qualifications, National Identification Documents, Employment Code Numbers, and Biometric Data.

Biometric data will involve capturing of one’s unique physical attributes such as fingerprints, DNA, iris and retina pattern, using ICT. The above system will ensure that every person being paid by Government for services rendered is properly accounted for.

Mthuli Ncube – Finance Minister

We’re in April now and the news around this necessary (if not vital) procedure has become drier than Zimbabwe’s fourth and fifth natural regions.

In December we got an update from the Sunday Mail noting that the process would begin within the first 3 months of the year. In the same story, Dr Hungwe (the Public Services Commission Chairperson) said the PSC would be working with other government departments to meet the goal:

The Public Service Commission is going to work hand-in-glove with other line ministries. We are going to start in the first quarter of 2019. Biometric registration will take long, thus we must look at it as a process. We will be sharing information with other parties on how it will rolled out

Vincent Hungwe – PSC Chairperson

At the end of January, The Chronicle reported that the process was now underway (but at the same time, not underway) as a committee had been appointed to “spearhead the biometric registration of civil servants”. Unfortunately funding for the process had not yet been released:

A committee has been set up but treasury has not released any funds so it’s something that is on the table awaiting funding to kick off. Once funds are availed it will take off but we don’t know when they will release the funds.

Mr Ethet Gambe – Public Service Commission deputy communications manager

What became a bit concerning for me as I went through the internet trying to understand this story was that as far back as 2017 there had been reports on the internet of attempts to try and do the exact same thing. In October that year, Daily News ran a story titled “Biometric system for civil servants“. Of course, this is not necessarily surprising once you consider that the problem of ghost workers has been rampant for a long time and the Daily News piece acknowledged that in 2011 there were 75 000 known ghost workers and 12 500 in 2016.

It seems there’s some progress but this is one of those things that can very quickly turn into the digitisation at ZBC which has been promised for years but never delivered. Once you also take the fact that these ghost workers are there to benefit influential people in powerful positions one can’t be blamed for having doubts about whether or not the government is genuine when they declare that progress is being made on that front.

It’s hard to understand what exactly is happening now and we tried to contact the Public Services Commission office for a comment but could not get through at the time of writing. We also tried to reach out Permanent Secretary of the ICT Ministry, Engineer Kundishora who was also unreachable.

We will update this article once we’ve gotten a response from the PSC or any other individual close to the situation.


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2 thoughts on “What Happened To The Biometric Registration Of Civil Servants?

  1. You guys seems to write up your articles then contact the referenced institutions when you are done, as part of a cursory “due diligence”. Wait for their response, there is no need to rush.

  2. Mthulisi is mad. Government Gurus are the once go long all funds externalising it for their benefits. Ghost workers are in army and police

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