Former Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says most permanent secretaries are incompetent and are to blame for the rampant theft cases among civil servant.

In an interview, Monday, Sacika said permanent secretaries failed to perform because they were untrained political party supporters.

“Permanent secretaries are responsible and accountable for the management of human resourcing in their ministries or departments. But our permanent secretaries lack the training, the experience, the discipline and the character to undertake their assignments. Our permanent secretaries are men and women who are appointed not because they are competent but because they are party supporters of friends of the people in the corridors of power. So as long as they are in good books with the President and the political system, their jobs are safe. Even if they do not perform at all,” Sacika observed.

“On the basis of the Auditor General’s findings, very few permanent secretaries can keep their jobs. But not action is taken against them.They fail to perform because they are party supporters and it is time for them to eat. The biggest tragedy to have befallen our public service is the extent to which they have been politicised. We have a civil service which is not there to serve members of the public, but to serve the interest of the political party in power. If somebody has stolen, obviously the failure is on the part of the permanent secretaries. If you have a permanent secretary who doesn’t know what he is doing then you are lost. Then people in the ministry will steal money because the permanent secretary cannot manage or control them properly,”

Sacika said controlling officers were supposed to initiate disciplinary procedures when a civil servant misappropriated funds.

“When you get into the civil service, it doesn’t mean that it is a job for life; if you commit an offence, you are liable to be punished. Why should a person who has stolen not face the music? Why are they not dismissed or made to suffer other forms of punishment like a demotion? If you make a mistake, a permanent secretary must initiate the disciplinary process which may lead to your dismissal. So everything depends on the controlling officers. If they are incompetent, what do you expect them to do? They do nothing! To them it is okay. The position of the permanent secretary is critical. The administrative control has collapsed and who is responsible for that? It is not the minister. If you read your Constitution you will read what the permanent secretaries are expected to do,” said Sacika.