Covid-19 war: Govt leads in cutting staff… Workforce trimmed to 25pc

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Herald Reporters

THE Government’s move to reduce the public workforce from 40 percent to 25 in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 infections and mortalities has been lauded as it sets the trend that the whole country should follow to win the war against the pandemic.

This comes as President Mnangagwa has called for all hands on the deck if the nation is to defeat the invisible enemy that has claimed hundreds of lives in the country and wrecked the economy.

In the past weeks, the country has recorded an exponential increase in the number of cases, with weekly cases going up from 8 013 during the week ending July 13, 2021, to 21 346 in the week ending July 20.

And as part of the containment measures, the Government reduced its workforce to only a fraction to decongest offices, with civil servants set to report to work on a rotational basis.

On Tuesday in her post-Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services  Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government employees would report for duty on a rotational basis.

“Government has further reduced its workforce to 25 percent, on a two-weeks rotational interval. Priority will be given to the vaccinated personnel,” she said.

On the other hand, courts of law would be opened only for remand and urgent cases adding that all civil servants should be vaccinated.

The Secretary in the Public Service Commission Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe has since notified department heads that, in light of the decongestion exercise, line ministries should rotate staff in such a manner that no employee shall remain at home for more than 21 days at a stretch.

“Heads of ministries to continue ensuring that staff members working from home are capacitated with ICT equipment and adequate Internet facilities for them to work efficiently and productively.

“Those coming to workplaces must also be well supported with efficient and sufficient bandwidth to facilitate the holding of virtual meetings and other e-enabled communication,” said Ambassador Wutawunashe.

The move by the Government to decongest workplaces will ensure the maintenance of social distancing and in line with recommended guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Such a move, experts said, will not only help in curbing the spread of the virus but will also set the tone for the whole country and businesses.

Commending Government on its latest move, Chief Coordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Dr Agnes Mahomva said the move will help in arresting mobility and mixing of people, a major source of infections.

“Government once reduced the numbers before and now we are battling a third wave. This is good as the Government is strengthening all strategies that are vital to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Reduction in mobility and crowding is actually good as Covid-19 spreads quickly through the movement of people and crowding. Through this move there will be a reduction of movement in buses and workplaces,” she said.

Harare City Council health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi hailed the move saying it was a good response in light of the spike in Covid-19 cases.

“The statistics of Covid-19 cases, hospitalisation and deaths are more alarming than before. So the Government’s move to decongest is in line with WHO guidelines which encourage social distancing which is easier to maintain when there are few people at workplaces,” he said.

Dr Chonzi said while this was a welcome move it should be strengthened with the herd immunity vaccination exercise targeted by the Government.

“The winter weather is not on our side, but vaccination will help us a lot. People should continue following Government and WHO protocols,” he said.

Public health expert, Dr Enock Mayida said the move was commendable since Covid-19 infections and deaths are continuously rising while the larger part of the population is yet to be vaccinated.

“A lot of civil service share working areas, which makes social distancing difficult to maintain so staying at home as much as possible is the surest way of minimising Covid-19 infections as workplaces are increasingly becoming spread centres,” he said.

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