The government of Mozambique says an audit of the civil service payroll has revealed about 30,000 ghost workers.
It said some were paid for jobs they hadn’t done, others were dead or fictitious.
The fraud cost an estimated $250m (£200m) over two years, according to the civil service minister Carmelita Namashulua.
The audit was carried out to assess the effectiveness of officials in the country, which has been ranked as the 153rd most corrupt in the 2017 Transparency International Index.
About 348,000 workers were assessed, the minister said.
The Mozambican government outlined plans earlier this year to try to control public spending.