Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. File photo: ANA

Harare - Zimbabwe has laid off more than 3000 youth officers from the public service as part of its effort to streamline the wage bill.

Zimbabwe’s public service wage bill has been gobbling 90 percent of the country’s US4 billion national budget.

The retirement of youth officers, who accounted for 13.8 percent of the wage bill, saves the country a substantial amount at a time when the investment-hungry nation’s economy is limping.

The laid-off youth officers held various posts in the youth, sport, arts, and recreation ministry and did not “possess the requisite qualifications to be engaged as public officers”.

“The youth officers will be paid their cash in lieu of accrued days leave and cash in lieu of notice,” Public Service Commission secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said in a statement on Friday.

To appease those rendered jobless, most of whom are Zimbabwe national youth service graduates, Wutawunashe said government would empower them through vocational training and access to finance for entrepreneurial programmes.

He said the retirement of the youth officers was in line with the transitional stabilisation programme as announced by Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube in the 2019 national budget last November. At the time, Ncube proposed a raft of actions as wage bill containment.

The measures, Ncube said, “will yield annual financial savings to be channelled to critical areas of health and education, as well as infrastructure”.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is under pressure to improve the economy, which has been in free fall since he won the elections in July 2018. To repair the economy, Mnangagwa and his finance minister have repeatedly said they will not hesitate to implement austerity measures.

African News Agency (ANA)