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Why They Come and Go

Dec 1, 2008, 5:27 AM

It was not known for a long time why senior government officials get booted out of office. Most of them only get to know of their dismissal through a dismissal letter, without the public knowing the reason or reasons for their dismissal.

This lack of official explanation has always fuelled all sorts of rumours - some damning, some benign. As the grapevine buzzes with excitement in the wake of a dismissal, it is always difficult to know which version to believe because those who are thrown out with the right hand are usually recalled with the left one, either to the same post or to something less glamorous.

But things seem to have changed somewhat. While swearing in the new secretary of state for health and social welfare last week, President Yahya Jammeh gave an insight into why cabinet members lose their jobs now and again. He identified lack of initiative as the undoing of most top civil servants. "The fact that you have been appointed as secretaries of state, you are supposed to use your initiative. You have the authority to take care of your departments of state and if you have a problem, then you contact the president's office," President Jammeh said.

Specifically, the president then cited apathy and negligence as the reasons why somebody might have lost their job. In disclosing this information, the President was indirectly warning the rest of the Cabinet to guide against the twin evil of indolence and indifference.

It also shows that the President wants to have around him men and women who can take decisions and see them through - so long as such measures are for the benefit of the state. It is therefore up to Cabinet members and other senior public officials to do at all times what they think is right.

Seriously, governance at any level is a demanding business. It requires integrity, energy and resourcefulness. Anyone who does not feel up to the job should have the good sense to refuse it, when it is offered to him or her. To give the impression of competence when you do not have what it takes is to court disgrace and stigma.

"Anybody can be good in the country"

Wilde Oscar