By David Ruach Tang,
March 31, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– Re-building institutions and strengthening governance in post -conflict countries is a marathon on uphills. South Sudan as a country which has had already weak institutions and poor governance before the outbreak of the conflict, is not exception, and could be even more challenging than one expects. The author of this article argues that the forthcoming institutional reforms and strengthening of governance would be much more challenging for the parties forming Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU). It would be challenging in that majority of the parties constituting the TGONU view institutional reforms with different lens and have quite diverging political programmes in approaching this national concern.
Capacity building—that is, re-building effective and accountable institutions to address development issues such as reconciliation, national healing, restoring confidence and hope amongst the population adversely affected by conflict. It could reduce gloomy poverty in an impoverished South Sudan. I believe, these issues should be amongst the core functions of the upcoming National Unity Government. These issues could be addressed within multicultural and multi nationalities South Sudan perspectives. This article though reviews and analyses some of the issues, if adapted and properly implemented, could enable us have effective and efficient public service which responsive to public need. Reforming public service for effective service delivery to the population, I would argue, is only byword that can best fit the needs of our impoverished and traumatized population.
Reforming Public Institutions in South Sudan
The public service is an indispensable instrument through which the government implements its policies and programmes. It is through its instrumentality that government policies are translated into services for the people. The main functions of the public service are essentially to help formulate and implement the policies of government and to render related services to the public. Therefore reforming public intuitions for the delivery of services, improving delivery mechanisms lies within core public sector. It also means strengthening processes and procedures for effective, efficient, economical and ethical management .Within the public service is the civil service which constitute the inner core, or at the heart of public service. Civil service can thus be defined as “a well-organized body of permanent paid officials of ministries and departments under the executive arm of government, charged with the responsibility of implementing government policies and programmes in accordance with laid-down rules and procedures,” ( Miakudi ,2007) . There is no doubt that South Sudan public service has been plagued over by series of problems , amongst which , are poor performance of civil servants, widespread and endemic corruption amongst the political elites , politicization and ethinicization of the public service, absenteeism and ghost workers syndrome, just to mention a few of them. In addition to these problems, there are some few more challenges to public service institutions in South Sudan which may to be addressed to:
- The attitude of the people in general and civil servants in particular in South Sudan is so dreadful. There is a wide spread distrust of the public institutions by the public, and eradication of such requires political willing and commitment from the political elites. In other words, public see their relationship public intuition as prey –predator relationship. People need tangible and sustainable evidence and that is daunting duty. This could take quite a long time to be healed.
- The skill and knowledge disparities is widespread amongst civil servants implementing government policies and programmes. These are skill and knowledge gaps need to be filled by the TGONU. It means recruiting civil servant to public service should be based on merit and competence.
- Resources constraint that may be required to implement the reform programmes in public service is indeed a challenging duties, given the level of economic crisis the country is now. Rebuilding the country on new foundation is altogether huge responsibility. Institutional reforms therefore are essential to reshaping the behaviour of human being in initiating and managing all the challenges and sustainability.
Before the conflict broke out on December 15th, 2013, South Sudan has had poor functioning of public sector institutions as a result of weak governance, which in itself a fundamental cause to the conflict. After the eruption of the conflict, the governance situation has deteriorated further and the country witnessed more governance problems. Weak governance brings along with it challenges like increase of violent crimes, poor and collapsing economy, nepotism and criminalization of politics in the new nation. These are major constraints to growth and equitable development in the country. Now that the peace is already at the door step, the task to restore effective and good governance is a waiting looming challenge to TGOUN and the parties constituting it. Governance areas that may require reform are:
- Restoring legitimate politics– fostering inclusive settlement can lead to practical resolution of the conflict. It means the promotion of pluralistic governance, participatory democracy and legitimate politics in the country which the people of South Sudan have been waiting for ages. Furthermore, legitimate politics also means abandoning politics of scarcity and adopting politics of abundant – a belief that there are enough resources and power out there for everyone citizen.
- Security and Judiciary sector reforms – establishing and strengthening people’s security. The ideas of human security means linking the sphere of security and development that should form one of the building blocks for developing effective policies and strategies for weak and already failing states like South Sudan . Judiciary independence is very crucial component of governance reform that needs to be given attention.
- Establishing and Strengthening Economic Foundations–generating employment opportunity for the idle productive work in a country where approximately 80% or above of educated work force is unemployed .Second, improving livelihood of the people both urban and rural areas is very curicual. The employed small percentage employed [20%] is still dominated by individuals few who have who ‘they know ’ and that small percentage is much more confined in one sector – the public sector. This is a formidable task to wrestle with because changing the deep rooted status quo, is an uphill duty. In case of economic and social development, public service reforms is essential to promoting sustaining pluralism , economic equality , political life and ensure that the participation of citizens in public activities is equitable .
- Revenue Management and Services Delivery to the Public – Managing revenues effectively and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery needs to be one of the top priorities of TGONU. Combating rampant and endemic corruption and rent-seeking attitude is a demanding task for the incoming Government. As part of social justice, efficient and effective revenue management and service delivery reform is important.
Recommendations for Policy Reform in Public Service
Governments all over the world have attempted to reform or reorganize the public organizations to make it productive and competent, (Mirut & Asfaw, 2014). Considering the malaise that have characterized the public service in South Sudan as well as the need to reposition it to make it people –oriented and compatible with the realities of global standard, there is need to adapt New Public Management (NPM). Generally, the NPM is used to refer to a set of contemporary administrative changes aimed at improving public sector efficiency and performance in the delivery of services, (Siddique, 2013). It focuses on:
- seeking to get rid of age-old bureaucratic practices and replace them by businesslike management principles focusing on structure, processes, and function;
- decentralization of power and empowerment of citizens, greater synergy between various agencies and government programs, and rationalization of public systems;
- outcomes and results based merit-based recruitment promotion , performance contracts and performance management to hold staff accountable ;
- improving quality of regulation and the management of human resources;
- management culture that emphasizes on the centrality of citizens/customers and accountability for results;
- cost recovery, entrepreneurship by allowing employees/teams to pursue program delivery outside established mechanisms, competition between public and private agencies for effective service delivery to the public; and
- private sector-style management and flexibility;
In conclusion, institutional reform agenda in South Sudan will succeed only when country’s leaders are committed and are in driver’s seat. Changing the internal functions of the deep rooted culture of impunity in every aspect of public institution, particularly in security organ, is not by enough by itself alone, yet to achieve this fundamental reform component though, is very much challenging. To be effective, we need to work together as one nation, put the past behind, work with our partners to understand and address the broad of challenges and pressures both inside and outside to look at issues that public sector institutions. Failure to implement the reforms effectively, it may lead the country to revert to yet another cycle of conflict.
David Ruach Tang, is an academic and a Member of the SPLM/SPLA –IO Advance to Juba. His areas of research interests include education, civil service reforms and developmental state political economy. He can be reached with the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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