Civil Services reform

May 20, 2020, 1:26 PM | Article By: D.M. Badjie

One fundamental problem in this era in the New Gambia administration is the lack of understanding of the machinery and functions of Government by many political leaders and public servants.

A people who never served in Government before, if they don’t have the proper technocratic and professional guidance, could mess up the system of Government. The current trend of frequent reshuffling of Permanent Secretaries and Managing Directors will not bring about the desired results in terms of increasing efficiency in the administration. It is in fact an indication of the fragility of the system.

As long as this Government is not ready to embark on the long awaited Civil Service Reform, they will continue to grope in the dark with the blind leading the blind in many instances. There is so much cluelessness within the administration that is costing us dearly. For example, how can the Government allow itself to be embarrassed on many occasions in the processing of executive decisions in Parliament and sometimes in the courts? We have seen the mistakes with the appointments of the Ombudsmen, with the appointments of nominated Members of Parliament, and with the tough times financial bills encounter in Parliament. We see all types of poorly structured letters coming from Government offices, most of which are not couched in the proper administrative language. We continue to have regional Governors as if The Gambia is a federal State. The leadership to guide the executive and the administration has been weak. The administrative machinery and functions have been subject to individual interpretations and practices. The pillars of administration, such as the Public Service Regulations, Financial Instructions, General Orders, Foreign Service Regulations, Procurement Rules, etc. have been largely ignored and left in the hands of incompetent officers. The country therefore suffers from maladministration and confusion in the system of Government.

Another grave mistake in the formation of Government,in my view, is the mixture in cabinet of political party leaders and technocrats. This has led to conflicts of interest in the sequencing of priorities in development, appointments in key service positions, unaccountable financial management, abuse of state privileges, and political patronage even at the expense of proper systems management and implementation of the national development agenda. Furthermore, there is so much flip-flopping in the government architecture.

It has been widely acknowledged that so far, it is the Ministry of Justice that has successfully accomplished its mandate of transition programs such as The Janneh Commission, Human Rights Commission, CRC, TRRC, etc. The other sectors of the administration are still limping. Gambians are therefore very much concerned about the non-performance of most of the Government agencies. The executive should wake up to this reality and change the face of Government for the better.

The civil service is the administrative arm of Government responsible for the implementation of the socioeconomic development agenda of the Government. It has to be capacitated. It has to be productive, clean, and credible. We cannot continue to approach service delivery with cluelessness, carelessness, heedlessness, unpatriotic behaviour and unprofessionalism. It is sensible to suggest at this moment that the Government should seek donor intervention (support) for the reform of The Gambia civil service. The Gambian donor partners should equally be concerned about the effective utilization of the donor funds by the Government machinery.

In New Gambia, we have had great opportunities and goodwill, but we continue to lack the capacity to process our needs and to strategize towards economic and social development. We cannot continue to depend on circumstantial donations for our development. A restructured, reorganized civil service is the way forward to our growth and development.