GOVERNANCE and public policy specialist Wesley Chibamba has advised the new administration to conduct a personnel audit in public institutions in order to remove unqualified, incompetent political appointees.

In a statement, Thursday, Chibamba who is former Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) executive director stated that the public service needed to be cleaned up.

He added that once the new cabinet was ushered in, there was a need to scrutinize various boards that superintended over departments, agencies and state-owned enterprises that fall within their respective ministries.

“Once the cabinet is ushered in, there is need to scrutinize the various boards that superintend over departments, agencies and state owned enterprises that fall within their respective ministries. They need to scrutinize the staff composition within the ministries as well. The public service needs to be cleaned up. Our Criminal Justice system should not be spared, starting from Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) as well as the various courts, all the way up to Correctional Services. The people in these institutions must be qualified to be there and competent, otherwise we deny proper justice to the citizens,” Chibamba said.

“Personnel Audits should be a mandatory task for the Public Service Management Division (PSMD). One of the easiest ways to do this, especially for the top positions, is to ask the post holders to reapply for their positions following the established job requirements for the subject position and established employment criteria, of course taking into account the contractual provisions and the labour law.”

Chibamba noted that the lack of confidence which public institutions had suffered was due to a shortage of good people of integrity that make decisions and lead the institutions.

“There is no doubt that the new regime has a gargantuan task of rebuilding this country in so many ways. One of the best ways to rebuild the country is to strengthen public institutions, especially governance institutions. Public Institutions are responsible for providing public services, including delivery of justice. These public institutions are guided by public policy (policy framework), Law (legal framework) as well as rules, procedures and regulations (administrative framework). But the most important thing is that institutions are made of people and good institutions are made up of good people. The lack of confidence that the public institutions have suffered is not for the lack of policy, legal and administrative frameworks, it is for the shortage of good people of integrity that make decisions and lead these institutions,” he said.

“Most of these unqualified, incompetent political appointees are still holding office. The solution is very simple, there should be a personnel audit conducted in all public institutions. The primary objective of this exercise should be to bring about professionalism in the public service. This will even help the government weed out ghost workers. If this is not done, the same unqualified, incompetent people will continue running public affairs as officers in public institutions, which will not change anything with regards citizen satisfaction with service delivery.”

Chibamba noted that during the PF’s stay in office, competent people in public institutions were either fired or retired in national interest and replaced with political party cadres.

“It is no secret that in the last 7 years of the PF regime, good, competent people were fired, retired in national interest or gotten rid of in any other way for being perceived as sympathetic to the opposition. Most concerning is that political party cadres were being appointed into decision making positions in Ministries, Provinces and other Spending Agencies (MPSAs), including State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and most of them are not even qualified or competent to hold the said positions. Political party cadres were appointed as provincial permanent secretaries (PSs) in some provinces or as PSs in some ministries most were appointed as District Commissioners (DCs),” said Chibamba.

“Some were appointed to sit on Boards (as Board Members) of various Public Institutions (especially SOEs) to give policy direction to technocrats. These cadres did not understand the roles, responsibilities or functions of their offices to an extent where they abused power and resources. These political party cadres in official positions often disregarded the law, rules, regulations and procedure in their discharge of their functions. They often made decisions not in public interest but in the interest of the political party they belong to and often for self-preservation and aggrandizement.”