Members of Parliament (MPs) have questioned appointments of senior public servants, saying that some politically connected people are given positions ahead of deserving candidates.
However the Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Magosi brushed off the accusations, saying he fully applied himself in “a thorough process” in making appointments.
The face off between Magosi and legislators took place on Thursday when the top civil servant appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Public Service and its Management. He answered questions about a string of appointments of senior government officials over the past few years.
In the process, Permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants have lost jobs, some have been transferred and others deployed to less powerful positions.
The public service has also seen new faces recruited from the private sector into powerful positions. These include well-known politicians from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as well as shocking appointments of opposition leaders in some instances.
“We all know that public servants should be apolitical, but we still see a politically-charged public service where politicians who lose elections are given posts in government and this kills professionalism,” said Ngami MP, Caterpilllar Hikuama.
“Office of the PSP seems to be encouraging this as we see people being appointed on party membership and not merit.
This leads to people being demotivated and eventually affects service, ” he said.
Hikuama further questioned as to whom public servants bore their allegiance between politicians and the country. He said allegiance to politics led to ‘bolope’ (sycophancy or servile flattery) which also leads to failure to deliver.
For his part, Jwaneng-Mabutsane legislator,
“Recruiting skilled and experienced personnel from outside the public service should not be a problem. “However, it becomes a problem when appointments are political. This will lead to the public not appreciating such appointments and not supporting them,” he said.
Gaborone Bonnington South legislator, Cristian Greef cautioned Magosi over deploying senior officials to less powerful positions. He stated that this demoralised the said employees and could lead to disgruntlement and non-performance.
Chairperson of the committee, MP for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile expressed concern at what he said was the “constant reshuffling of senior public servants”.
“I am concerned about constant reshuffling of permanent secretaries and directors; every week there is a reshuffle somewhere.
“When will they settle down and be able to produce results? They should be able to develop visions and lead them without being hurried out,” the Maun East MP said.
In response, Magosi denied making political appointments, adding that he did not overlook employees due for promotion and that he scrutinised the process.
“I do not just take the word of a PS to promote an officer. The PS has to write a motivation for the promotion. In addition to that, I do my own investigations and ask them tough questions before eventually making any appointments. Even for those from outside, I scrutinise fully before appointing,” he said.