Legislators say public service reforms efficacy questionable
By Bilham Kimati, Dodoma
Legislators on Saturday questioned the justification for appointment of incompetent district commissioners, regional commissioners and other senior government officials fresh from college.
They said they end up receiving instructions from subordinates instead of providing the anticipated good leadership.
They said this at a day-long training workshop on Phase two (2008 - 2012) of Public Service Reform Programme (PSRF), which was prepared by the President�s Office, Public Service Management.
At least 27 legislators made their contributions after a presentation by the ministry�s Principal Secretary, George Yambesi, who outlined future plans to help increase efficiency in the public service sector.
Contributing, Reynald Mrope, Masasi MP, who spoke strongly about leadership weaknesses, particularly at the district level where the DCs are not creative and were totally ignorant of leadership matters.
�Today we are talking about the second phase of the public service reform programme, but I am not quite sure about the levels of success of Phase One of the programme.
As a result, we still see that officials remained as acting leaders for more than six months, no officers to give appropriate answers to queries, district commissioners are appointed under questionable criteria, government secret documents are leaked out and the like. When will all these be addressed adequately?� Mrope asked.
Supporting him, Job Ndugai (Kongwa, CCM) expressed disappointment on some rigid-long-serving officers, who he said were unwilling to change even on issues of great benefit to the nation.
He said usually after every general election there was change of leadership, adding:
�In the US, for example, the moment a new president is sworn in, all levels of leadership remained vacant to the bottom. This gives a chance to the new leadership to put in office people believed to be competent. Here in Tanzania things are different.
Despite change in national leadership people serving in public offices remained the same, some not prepared to cope with positive changes initiated by legislators. District councils and local governments need fresh oxygen to serve the nation better�.
For his part, Godfrey Zambi, (East Mbozi,CCM) spoke strongly about the problem of corruption and reminded the whole team of public service who also attended the seminar about the need to remember those at the lowest level.
He said it appeared that the reforms only benefited higher-ranking officers and forget those at the lower levels who are earning too little to feed their families.
�Promotion of civil servants is an issue of concern. For example, there are schoolteachers or rural medical officers working for years without being promoted, but at the same time those employed later enjoyed the privilege. Salaries are not timely paid and payment of pension to retired people was cumbersome,� Zambi said.
Beatrice Shelukindo (Kilindi, CCM) challenged the office to ensure the practicality of ICT, especially at district council levels where computers had been installed but were not working.
�It is necessary to take legislators around to show them where success had been registered,� she said.
With regard to professionalism, Shelukindo expressed concern over highly-paid incompetent employees who might not be hired on merits but through preferential treatment or nepotism.
�Learn from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare where a non-qualified person has no room to hide,� she insisted.
Margareth Mkanga (Special Seats, CCM) said it was surprising that job applications of most of the disabled graduates were turned down and those who happened to have their names included in the list of those to be interviewed were forgotten all together soon after the interview.
Mgana Msindai (Iramba East, CCM) demanded explanation as to why most of government officials were not taken for refreshers\' courses or up-grading programmes as it used to be in the past.
The dramatic scene followed when Jenister Mhagama (Peramiho, CCM) questioned the seriousness with the officer entrusted of preserving documents, which were available in wrong hands.
�Perhaps Dr. Slaa can help us on this (thunderous claps and shouting in the former Parliament chamber).
Springing to his feet and clad in a traditional dress, Dr Wilbrod Slaa, said, �Mr chairman, I have two points to make. People have filed so many work-related complaints but the response by the Public Service Management has been inconspicuous�. He also spoke of the need for the government to support the private sector to deliver better services to the public.
With regard to availability of governments� secret documents, Dr Slaa posed a philosophical question that left the entire meeting chamber silent.
- SOURCE: Guardian