Editor's Comment

We need sanity in civil service

Government complex.

A UN report of 2005 in its conclusion states that: No matter how organised and constitutional a government is, it would not get very far in the absence of public administration system capable of translating its

broad political intentions, enforcing its laws and delivering services needed by the people.
This attests that without a professional public service, it is impossible to achieve any meaningful development.
This is because while any government in power may have a vision for the country, it takes the public service technocrats to translate that vision into policy and action.
The role of civil servants is to implement policies and programmes of Government to achieve the much-desired economic development.
It is also within the duties of public service workers to raise revenue for the country and oversee public expenditure to ensure prudent use of resources for maximum development benefits.
It is therefore a bare fact that public service is at the centre of service delivery.
Given the important role that public service workers play in the country’s development process, it is expected that they execute their duties with the highest sense of responsibility and professionalism.
The sad reality, however, is that there is a lot of unprofessionalism in the way some civil servants execute their duties and this has been attributed to political inclinations.
It is disheartening that for a country like ours which is in urgent and dire need of development, fundamental players like civil servants can afford to sacrifice the country’s future for political expediency.
While civil servants have every right to support or vote for any candidate of their choice, it is beyond their boundaries to get actively involved in political activities and much more to allow their political inclinations to interfere with their jobs.
In Zambia, it is a well-known fact that the civil service is not functioning in the way it should.
The public service is marred with unprofessionalism, laissez-faire attitude, inefficiency, ineffectiveness and corruption, among other vices.
Unfortunately, some of these tendencies are politically engineered by those who do not support the party in power to cause failure in service delivery and subsequently repulsion by the general public.
We have also time and again heard of how teachers have been involved in political campaigns at the expense of quality service delivery.
This is why we fully welcome President Lungu’s directive to the Civil Service and Teaching Service commissions to de-politicise the public service and restore sanity.
During the swearing-in ceremony of Dickson Chasaya as chairperson of the Civil Service Commission and Stanley Mhango as Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, President Lungu rightly noted that the civil service is politically contaminated.
He has called or demanded that there be a restoration of sanity and improvement of service delivery.
The President said some civil servants, instead of working, are busy making political manoeuvres.
The President wondered when development would take place if those in the civil service expended their energies on politics.
Indeed, politically-active civil servants are a liability to the country’s development process.
It is therefore our expectation that the two new chairpersons will run with the President’s directive to bring sanity to the civil service.
The task ahead of them is huge but we believe they are equal to the task. As President Lungu said, he looked far and wide and decided to settle for the two because of their expertise and experience.
It is also our hope that the two chairpersons will not betray the confidence President Lungu has shown in them. They must ensure that they achieve goals set for them.
Mr Chasaya and Mr Mhango should know that the eyes of all Zambians are on them in anticipation of better service delivery in the public sector.
It will therefore be a disservice not only to themselves but also to the country as a whole to treat anyone found wanting with kid gloves.
The commissions should not hesitate to part company with any culprit.
We cannot afford to allow a few individuals in the civil service to hold our country’s development to ransom.
We bet the country can do much better without these self-centred public workers.
Let us all therefore rally behind the two commissioners as they embark on the task of bringing back professionalism by depoliticising the civil service.
This is the only way to improve public service delivery and subsequently accelerate development.
It is therefore not a matter of choice; we need a professional civil service.

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