RBZ settles exit packages

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has paid millions of dollars to 472 of its former employees who lost their jobs in a retrenchment exercise carried out by the bank five years ago.

“Payments of outstanding 2011 retrenchment package were finalised during the year, save for deceased members who could not submit certificates of executorship,” central bank governor John Mangudya said in his first annual report for 2014 published recently.

The RBZ chief noted that back pay for retained staff were also paid out during the period under review.

This was after the apex bank, which had over 2 000 employees before dollarisation in 2009, was forced to retrench nearly 1 500 workers as part of strategies to streamline its operations and halt quasi-fiscal activities that had turned into a gravy train for politically connected individuals.

The RBZ bloated its staff during Zimbabwe’s decade-long crisis when the bank took over the financing of virtually all of the country’s sectors, including parastatals and local councils.

Economists and the International Monetary Fund  (IMF)blame former central bank governor Gideon Gono, who became the country’s chief banker in December 2003 until his tenure ended in 2013, for compounding Zimbabwe’s economic crisis through quasi-fiscal activities that saw the RBZ pump trillions of dollars into financing President Robert Mugabe’s populist projects and political programmes.

They say printing money was fuelling inflation.

Hyperinflation and the shortage of banknotes were the most visible signs of a severe economic crisis blamed on Mugabe’s policies and seen in shortages of food and every essential commodity.

During the inclusive government era it became apparent that the central bank could not meet its wage bill resulting in the massive retrenchments, which were resisted by the workers who had to approach the courts for relief.

Mangudya also said the bank successfully defended its position in a number of court cases from retrenched staff who were disgruntled in various ways by the 2011 retrenchment process.

This was after the employees had in 2013 sought recourse from the Labour Court after their former employer failed to settle the balance of their severance packages almost three years after the retrenchment exercise.

The employees were awarded a $9,3 million payment settlement by the Labour Court, which dismissed the RBZ’s appeal against immediate payment.

Mangudya noted that the bank began the year 2015 with a staff complement of 512.

“As at December 31, 2015, however, the headcount was 511, comprising of 66,3 percent males and 33,7 percent females. This represented a low staff turnover rate of about two percent,” he said.

“Training and Development interventions for members of staff continued on a limited scale in 2015, largely due to limited financial resources.

“Members of staff, however, continue to benefit from training programmes provided by IMF, Southern African Development Community and Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa,” Mangudya added

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