The Department of Human Resource Management and Development has given ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) until September 30 to reconcile staff records and put an end to inefficient human resource management.
The department’s communication follows revelations that the civil service continues to be rocked with inefficiencies that include excess staff, poor employment record keeping, delayed conclusion of disciplinary cases and failure to report deaths and resignations.
In a communication dated August 18 2021, the department said it has alongside the Ministry of Finance, with assistance from the European Union programme Chuma cha Dziko, carried the ‘personnel audit’ between October and December last year.
Reads the circular in part: “The aim of the audit was to address the concerns pertaining to general human resource management functions such as recruitment, establishment control, payroll management, employment records and leave administration.”
The department said the inefficiencies were “adversely affecting the management of human resources in the civil service” and has called on departments to take appropriate actions to remedy the situation.
Signed by the department’s Principal Secretary Blessings Chilabade, the memo lists the findings as “inaccurate or complete employment records like dates of birth and qualifications; non-reporting of personal events such as deaths, resignations and postings to facilitate the updating of employees data.
“Non-adherence to regulations and policies affecting leave administration especially relating to sick leave, paid and unpaid study leave”.
On excess staff, Chilabade wrote: “You will further observe from the report that one of the main issues identified by the audit team, after a physical count of the bodies against the authorised establishment, is the existence of excess staff.”
To counter the problem, the department has unveiled plans to redeploy some workers after a comprehensive vetting exercise.
Reads the communication: “Ministries/departments should submit their vacancy returns to this department by 30th September, 2021. Ministries/departments should submit their updated and accurate staff returns to this department by 30th September 2021.
“Upon receiving the returns indicated above, this department will make further consultations with the affected ministries and departments for appropriate actions which will include re-deployment of excess staff to ministries which have high vacancy rates and restructuring, where necessary.”
Inefficiencies such as poor records keeping have been outstanding in the civil service for a long time.
On how they would ensure that the recommendations are implemented this time around, the department’s spokesperson Ken Mtonga said: “Our expectation is that the ministries and departments will comply. We shall also be following up on compliance.”
He could not immediately disclose the number of civil servants who have died and resigned as recorded in the audit report.
Meanwhile, human resource management expert Richard Tchereko said failure to report deaths and resignation could lead to ghost workers sneaking onto the payroll if strong mechanisms are not put in place.
He said: “The payroll office ought to prepare monthly salary payroll based on input data from various departments who should verify and validate that only active employees are paid while all inactive are removed.
“It may be negligence to auto-prepare and release monthly payroll in absence of validated input data without complying with statutory and control policy requirements.
“They need to put in place mechanisms of obtaining such data. One way is the issue of decentralisation of salaries preparation which I understand is being considered.”
The personnel audit comes after a National Audit Office (NAO) audit of the financial year ending June 30 2016, which also inspected the Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) and reviewed the public service payroll, exposed similar challenges.
The 2017 audit revealed that government was losing millions of taxpayers’ money through continued existence of ghost workers, cases of civil servants taking home double salaries and abuse of payments through allowances, dubious fuel allocations, mobile phone airtime and other expenses.