Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, Executive Director, Ghana Integrity Initiative, (GII) on Tuesday said lack of public sector accountability was often being blamed on poor terms and conditions of service of public servants.
He said Africa public servants, especially civil servants complained of not being paid a living wage leading to low efficiency and productivity within the service.
“It is even more demoralizing to these public officers when other public officers particularly politicians, are paid much higher salaries and allowances that are determined by themselves,” he said.
Mr Azeem stated at the no-going 2013 Africa Public Service Day celebration in Accra.
He said public servants needed to do everything possible to improve the situation so that everybody could be paid better salaries and allowances
The week-long programme is on the theme, “Africa Public Service in the Age of Open Government: Giving Voice to Citizens” was being attended by Africa Ministers of Public Service, Parliamentarians, Civil Society Organisations, Academia, and identified student bodies.
Mr Azeem said in Ghana the government had set up a Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to determine salaries and allowances for public officers…” but where government was unable to pay a living wage or fair wages, the public servants often run to other sources of income such as private businesses or abuse of office or even strikes.
“At the end of the day, all these factors contribute to the deterioration of public accountability and a decline of professional standards in public service.
“A civil service job should be seen as a permanent career with appointments and promotions based on relevant qualifications and experience”.
He said an employee expects to rise through promotions so long as one possesses the required qualification and experience “yet today trained and experienced civil servants were subordinated to inexperienced less qualified politicians and partisan-based appointees who might not even accept their technical advice”.
Mr Azeem said movement of heads of public service and other senior civil servants from organization to organization without due regard to their suitability for the positions, especially with changes in government undermines the morale of civil servants.
“Civil Servants who work diligently, marking time with the hope that one day they would rise to the top get disappointed with these reshuffle and thereby resort to abuse of office to enrich themselves as they do not know when the next shuffle will hit them.
“This is gross abuse of the public trust and does not promote a professional, efficient, transparent and accountable public service,” he said and urged African governments to desist from those acts to promote accountable public service.
Mr Azeem also tasked governments to make it possible for civil society and civil society to hold public and private power accountable for its actions; generate alternative ideas and policy positions, push for fundamental changes in the structure of power, and organize collective action on a scale large enough to force long term shifts in politics, economic and social relations.
Mr Cornelus Yawson, Director, Grievance and Negotiations, Fair wages and Salaries Commission said the Commission do not only fix salaries and wages and that it equally see to it that public and civil servants’ performance measure up to their pay.
He said one’s qualification and experience was no longer the yardstick for measuring one’s pay because one could have all the qualifications and experience required yet could still be non-performer.
Ambassador Peter L. Kasanda, Deputy Secretary to the Zambia Cabinet, said there must be concerted efforts to enforce mechanisms put in place to check corruption and accountability within public office holders.
He said as a continent there was the need to think about entitlement culture and desist from those attitudes which made it look as if governments are responsible for everything.
Mr Kasanda said every citizen had the responsibility to ensure that public funds were used for the intended purposes and called for a change of that mind sets that governments had the sole responsibility for everything around them.
He said that was the only way the citizens could assist in building a formidable continent.
Ms Edziom Bemba, Congo Director General de la Reforme de l’Etat, said governments need political will to enforce the code of conduct and sanctions to serve as an example.