Cabinet Secretary urges healthy relationship between politicians and civil servants


March 16, 2015 By: Amadu Femoh Sesay

Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Dr. Ernest Surrur, has said that there was need to bring together political and bureaucratic leaders in an effective partnership to ensure that implementable policies are developed and fully implemented for the benefit of all and sundry.

Dr. Surrur was addressing over 300 decision and policy makers in public/administration and heads of Public Sector in Africa on the theme, ‘Effective Partnership for Citizen Centred Sustainable Development’ at the 36th Roundtable Conference of the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM). The confab ran from 2nd-6th March, and held at the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Rabat, Morocco.

He observed that a sound and healthy relationship between politicians and civil servants was critical for the development of any country, noting that key among his responsibilities was to build effective partnerships between the political and bureaucratic leaders. He however pointed out that they both have important parts to play in the running of the state and each must recognise the other’s legitimate roles.

The Secretary to the Cabinet maintained that ministers must engage civil servants in policy proposals to ensure they are realistic, implementable and seek the interest of the public, and the latter also must recognise the legitimate role of ministers in setting priorities and making final decisions.

Dr. Surrur disclosed that Sierra Leone has made significant strides to improve on Cabinet decisions-making process. Stressing on the need to make decisions based on evidence, he said Cabinet Secretariat was trying to build ‘evidence culture’ in government decision-making by developing a new proposed Cabinet Manual which would help ministries develop good proposals, where validation of proposals by stakeholders becomes part of the process; educated politicians and civil servants on political/administrative interface and trained Cabinet focal persons and policy analyst that would help line ministries prepare good proposals.

Dr. Surrur noted that the main objectives of the conference were to give insight into how effective partnership can be optimized for better policy outcomes at national and devolved levels; proffered innovative approaches to constructing effective partnerships for sustainable citizen-centric service delivery, and highlighted the value of transparency, accountability, ethics and integrity, gender and diversity management in enhancing trust in government, fostering integration and achieving better service delivery outcomes.

Dilating on the importance of citizens/stakeholders consultation, he said ministers and civil servants must find a way to engage citizens and stakeholders on policy development, observing that many Cabinet decisions were not implemented because citizens/stakeholders were not engaged. He maintained that out of 89 proposals reviewed in three African countries, 59% had no external consultation, either planned or implemented.

Speaking on behalf of the Africa Cabinet Government Network (ACGN) as the President, Council of African Cabinet Secretaries, Dr. Surrur said the need to strengthen the existing relationships between the political and bureaucratic leaders also lies behind the growing partnership between AAPAM and ACGN. He pointed out that there was a natural synergy between AAPAM’s work on building civil service capacity to deliver on government priorities, and ACGN’s role in supporting the decision-making process that determine those priorities.

Welcoming the participants, the Minister of Civil Service and Modernization of Administration, Mohamed Moubdi, said the city of Rabat was delighted to host the conference and hoped it would give them the opportunity to discuss several current issues, including partnerships between political leaders and technocrats, partnerships with civil society, openness, access to information, decentralization, gender, diversity management and sustainable development.

The minister informed the meeting that Morocco was firmly committed to contribute to peace, sustainable development, promotion and development and modernization of the public sector, stressing that the theme was of key importance in strengthening the partnership and the restoration of trust between governments and citizens.