Monrovia, Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The attention of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia has been drawn to reports of reappointment of former government officials who resigned their respective positions, based on Section 5.2A of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, to contest as Representatives in the just ended October Elections.
CENTAL is deeply disappointed in the President’s decision and sees her action as continuation of the patronage system that has undermined effectiveness and efficiency in public service over the years. Continuously working with a select few, especially family members and friends, paints the picture that there exists a void of the competent, a proposition we refuse to accept. We strongly believe that there are many other Liberians willing and able to work in the concerned capacities. Given the poor state of the economy and poverty-stricken conditions of most Liberians, it is important that people begin to diversify and not see the public pie as an entitlement that can be reclaimed after resignation. We also wonder why the President continues to hold sacred the very people rejected by their constituencies at the polls.
But several questions also linger: Are these individuals being reappointed to make up for their financial losses during their failed election bids? How sure are we that those in question were not remotely running their offices and taking their salaries and benefits while away? Does this act not undermine the potency of the Code of Conduct?
This does not augur well for the new Liberia we are seeking to build. A Liberia that frowns on and robustly addresses corruption, provides equal access to job opportunities to all, and does not create the impression that certain individuals are entitled to government positions. With very high levels of unemployment in the country, we cannot afford to entrench a select few in power when there are several others, perhaps more qualified and competent, to equally serve in said positions.
CENTAL wishes to recommend the followings:
- That the President refrains from creating the wrong impression that certain Liberians are entitled to government positions and can leave and return at will, even if there are others more qualified and competent to replace them. Doing so undermines efforts to break away from the patronage culture and create a society of equal opportunities for all.
- That the Internal Audit Agency and the General Auditing Commission investigate and establish whether or not these officials, who reportedly resigned their positions, were not remotely running their offices and receiving their salaries and benefits while away. If established, it will demonstrate abuse of pubic trust and resources and serve as an ample basis for prosecution; and
- By virtue of their reported resignation and reappointment, these individuals are new appointees in government and must be subjected to confirmation proceedings by the Senate.
To conclude, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that our leaders act with transparency, accountability and integrity in all their dealings. This will support and enhance reforms efforts that are urgently needed to better our governance systems and processes as well as improve the quality of public service in the country.
Anderson D. Miamen