Cancelling Tenure Positions- A Rationale To Fast-Track National Development
THE PRESIDENT, HIS EXCELLENCY Dr. George Manneh Weah has recently submitted a bill to the National; Legislature that seeks to cancel all tenure positions, that is appointments in government that are normally out of the civil service regulations but for a specified period of years.
CRITICS HAVE BEEN QUICK TO label the President’s action as a ploy to exercise control over appointments that are international in terms of signing contracts and which requires specific qualifications that go through tender process, with a view to stamp out political s and interferences in the rendering of professional services. THE ARGUMENT THAT IS at play is that almost all existing tenure positions in the Liberia government are occupied on political grounds and not on the basis of satisfying international criteria and tender.
INDEED THERE SHOULD be a rationale why President Weah introduced the bill, as although many of the individuals holding tenure positions ought to be loyal to the government of the day, many of them often take advantage of the contract and the number of years they have signed for to occupy the position to be intransigent to government directives.
IT HAD HAPPENED IN Liberia and in many African countries that in the event of a change of government, many civil servants whose positions are tenure remain loyal not to the incoming government but the previous government(s) often arguing on the grounds that they were by trhe outgoing or previous government and that their period of tenure specified in their contracts have not yet expired.
IN JUSTIFYING THE TENURE cancellation, President Weah cited Article 56 (a): “All cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers and consuls, superintendents of counties and other government officials, both military and civilian, that will be appointed by the President shall be pursuant to this Constitution, and shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the President.”
THE PRESIDENT ARGUES THAT repealing the law will give the Presidency the power to exercise the law fully to ensure effective and efficient administering of the office of the President, as an amendment made to Article 56 (a) that resulted into several individuals being appointed by Ex- President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to tenure positions, are not in the best interests of government.
HEADS OF INSTITUTIONS THAT were declared tenure as a result of the amendment at the time include, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), General Auditing Commission (GAC). the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the National Elections Commission (NEC).
OTHERS ARE THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT and Concession Commission (PPCC) and the National Lotto Authority (NLA). Others are the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) and the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), among others.
THE MOVE BY THE LEGISLATURE at the time, to set aside certain positions within the Executive Branch of Government as tenure while others are public officials within the Executive Branch of Government, clearly limits or impedes the powers of the Presidency in line with Article 56 (a) of the Liberian Constitution.
INDEED AS LONG AS TENURE positions are not held on the basis of political affiliations, but strictly on the basis of qualifications, experience and tender board selections as done in the international arena, tenure positions would serve their purposes of providing the needed efficiency, transparency and good governance.
UNFORTUNATELY HOWEVER, in Liberia some tenure position appointees sometimes find themselves at variance with the executive branch of government due to political allegiance and ties with previous governments that appointed them.
HENCE IN VIEW OF THE need to ensure allegiance to the government of the day and the effective workings of government in promoting government’s development agenda, cancelling them is considered justified by many objective minded Liberians who want development efforts to forge ahead..
THIS IS WHY THE WE agree with President Weah for submitting the bill on the point that if all cabinet ministers, their deputies and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers and consuls, superintendents of counties, among others are appointed by the President, the action will fast-track national development and weed out divided loyalty.
IT WOULD REMAIN the prerogative of the President and his government to ensure the efficiency of all appointed government officials in government, as they work at his will and pleasure in line with powers of the President vested in Article 5 (a).