Mthuli Ncube

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe will cut public sector jobs to help stem ballooning expenditure, the country’s finance minister said on Friday.

Recently-appointed Mthuli Ncube said job cuts were among austerity measures needed to revive the moribund economy as the southern African country reels under a debt of $16.9bn.

“We are going to do that (job cuts),” Ncube told journalists at a news conference while presenting a two-year fiscal policy plan titled “transitional stabilisation programme”.

“Trying to restructure your workforce is never easy. It’s painful, it’s emotional and can be a traumatic process but still necessary,” he said.

Ncube said the government, which has a workforce of more than 300 000, will target jobs held by workers due for retirement and “those who are not correctly positioned in their positions”, but he gave no figures.

He warned that the country’s fiscal deficit for the first half of the year, which stands at $1.4bn, will top $2.7bn by the end of 2018 if not controlled.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was elected in a disputed election in July, has vowed to revive the economy.

The incoming administration denounced corruption, botched land reforms and government policies that saw investors flee under former president Robert Mugabe, who ruled for nearly 40 years.

Earlier this week, Ncube forecast that Zimbabwe’s economy would grow by 6.3% this year, driven mainly by agriculture and mining in a bid to boost growth after the fall of Mugabe.

The minister pledged to implement key reforms to cut expenditure, improve income, tackle corruption and privatise some state enterprises to turn Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030.

In recent weeks, the country has been running out of essential medical drugs and supplies of fuel have dwindled because importers are unable to secure foreign currency to replenish stocks.

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