ODM Leader Raila Odinga has provided a clear roadmap on how to reform and reorganize civil service for a better Kenya.
Mr Odinga who regards Civil Service “as the foundation of nation building and national development” believes “Nations begin to fail when the civil service begins to fail.”
He appreciates that over the years Kenya has maintained a comparatively functional civil service but is still having a long way to go.
Odinga who has been sharing a series of his thoughts on his social media on how Kenya should look like in the future envisages a civil service that is defined by discipline, hard work, high morale, efficiency, and high ethical standards.
Raila believes that for government to improve the performance of civil service, it must start by addressing the issues of nepotism, tribalism and favouritism in the civil service since it’s these three ills that have demoralized so many civil servants who then become mere hostages to a system they believe does not appreciate them.
He went on to say that frustrated officers stay on just to secure pension and turn to other ways to supplement income and get fulfillment. That they become brokers where they are supposed to be moderators. The nation and citizens are the losers.
We must give our civil servants the assurance that if they work hard, maintain a clean record, exercise discipline, then nothing will stand between them and rising to the topRaila Odinga said
Mr Odinga adds that as a country, there is need to design and adhere to a clear career progression path for civil servants that stands no matter which party or leader takes power in Kenya.
It’s possible to run a civil service that thrives on seniority and merit-based promotions.Raila added
Conflict of Interest
While Raila Odinga is aware of conflict of interest in the civil service, he advises that as a country, we have no otherwise but to eliminate conflict of interest in the civil service which is the main cause of the corruption, public mistrust and poor and delayed services that have come to be associated with public sector.
When government procurement officers are also suppliers, the consequences are obvious.Raila said
He further stated that Kenya needs to promote creativity in the civil service. Saying, “World over, civil servants tend to play safe, merely taking and implementing instructions. Kenya is not any different. We have to change this and institutionalize ways to enable civil servants who have different ideas on how to do better, bring their ideas to the table.”
Benchmarking in Private Sector
Mr Odinga advises that the government should devise a way through which civil servants can be allowed to spend time in the private sector and return to public service.
He is convinced that such a system will create an understanding in the public service of how the private sector does its work and how the two sectors can complement each other.
Odinga is also advocating for an enhanced capacity of the civil service to engage in strategic thinking, saying in many occasions, civil servants are caught in routine office work.
We need to push our civil service in the direction of the private sector where strategic thinking rather than business as usual and maintaining status quo is a must or you sink.He said
“We must create linkages between government and private sector, particularly the think tanks to enable civil servants pursue routine work and engage in strategic thinking at the same time.”
Return of National Economic and Social Council
Raila recalls how the National Economic and Social Council in the grand coalition was useful to them and urge the government to put maximum emphasis on creating and making use of first-rate think tanks who have no job other than to think for the country.
We will need to pack such institutions with the best brains and experienced hands and use them to feed our civil service with timely research, analysis and policy suggestions.He stated
Raila believes that Kenya should borrow from the developed world where public policy think tanks are all over the place and are constant players in government.
He is also advocating for maintainance of an up-to-date database on solid professionals and experts on issues like manufacturing, technology, economy, education, youth and international affairs and constantly tap into them.
Mandatory Refresher Courses for Civil Servants
Raila has advocated for mandatory refresher courses for all civil servants saying these are important in helping steer officers away from what has worked in the past to what addresses current and anticipated challenges.
Raila wants institution of a system for ensuring competitive pay and a welfare system covering basic salary, allowances and welfare Expenses. Here he believes this will ensure the civil service attracts and retains men and women of quality.
He is also advocating fir rigorous performance measurements and public perception tests for all the civil servants where those who perform will be rest assured it comes with benefits while those who fail also know there are consequences that include no promotion, pay stagnation or release from the service.
Expected result is an honest, patriotic, professional and efficient government that can deliver services to citizens, steady the country and stick to our national objective regardless of the politics of the day. I believe we can do it.He concluded