SHOULD THE POSITION OF MINISTER BE LINKED TO HEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

SHOULD THE POSITION OF MINISTER BE LINKED TO HEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE?

The Public service is supposed to be independent and impartial and should function with effectiveness and efficiency regardless of which person is sitting on the Presidential seat. Hence a civil service post which is pensionable at 60 should not be equated with a Cabinet post whose occupant could be removed by the President. In fact, the Public Service is put under a different Chapter in the Constitution and Section 166 Subsection (4) of the Constitution cleared all doubt by asserting that “in this Constitution, an office in the public service does not include a) the offices of President, Vice President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister or Member of the National Assembly.”

Hence, it is unconstitutional for a person to be Minister and Civil servant at the same time. The President used to ignore this fact and appoint the Head of the Public service as Minister.

A person holding an office in the public service on a permanent basis is the one who should be appointed Head of the Civil Service and not a Minister.

This is clearly stipulated under Section 168 Subsection (1). It reads: “The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission, shall appoint a person holding an office in the public service on permanent terms to be the Head of the Civil Service. The Head of the Civil Service shall be the competent authority for the Civil Service.”

A president who puts constitution aside to make decisions is bound to inject inconsistency and unpredictability in matters of administering the country. A clear example is the recent appointment of Mr Sulayman Samba as Head of the Civil Service and Minister for Presidential affairs only to remove the Ministerial portfolio and assign it to Mrs Yam Bamba Njie Keita. Has the president done this to show respect for the Constitution or just to satisfy his whims and caprices? Only time could tell.