A cull is underway of 1,000 managers in Iran’s Ministry of Labour, the controversial minister Hojjat Abdolmaleki who is in charge said Saturday.
“We estimate based on our evaluations that we need to remove around 1,000 individuals,” he told the official news agency (IRNA). “So far 350 of them have been removed or replaced but this will take time.” The minister suggested the ministry was top heavy in noting that there were 2,000 people “at the rank of director general and above in this organization.”
Abdolmaleki said that the administration of President Hasan Rouhani had hired people in the ministry with “connections to the media” and on the basis of their politics rather than qualifications.
The minister told Iran newspaper that security forces had supplied him with the names of over 100 journalists and social-media activists given jobs in entities under the ministry’s control as board members or executive managers. He told the newspaper these included some found guilty by courts over the 2009 “sedition” – unrest following the disputed presidential re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – while others had been involved with a parliamentary ‘sit in’ by reformist deputies after the disqualification of around 4,000 candidates by the Guardian Council in the 2004 parliamentary election.
Abdolmaleki, who served as an economic adviser to Ahmadinejad when president, said those removed would inevitably stir up media controversy. “One of our investigations revealed the corruption of 92 percent of those who were in in managerial and higher positions,” he said, adding that 120 cases had been prepared for the judiciary.
Hardliner media often refer to the populist Abdolmaleki, an alumni of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Imam Sadegh University, as a “theoretician of resistance economy” and “expert in Islamic economy”.
Abdolmaleki has proved a controversial minister. On January 15, the parliament’s presidium for the second time in less than a month blocked a motion to impeach him, brought from within the conservative camp that generally backs the Raisi administration. Lawmakers behind the two motions accused him of giving top jobs to political allies, mis-using ministry resources, and failing to deliver on promises of creating jobs.
State broadcaster IRIB has confirmed that Abdolmaleki allocated ministry money to a program on its Channel 3. The issue had been raised by parliament member Ahmad Alirezabeigi and some media outlets, who said this had come about after the minister had been invited to speak on the program several times.
There have been rumors of the Raisi administration intending to purge non-hardliners from government jobs. Last month, three university professors were fired for no real cause.