By Staff Writer
“Even though the Constitution calls for a professional, non-partisan civil service apparatus, ours has been a tradition of politicizing the civil service. An efficient, well-functioning civil service requires a cadre of competent technocrats insulated from political interference to carry out the day-to-day functions of government irrespective of whichever party is in power. To accomplish this, the president, legislators, and other elected officials have to resist the urge to treat the entire bureaucracy as a spoil of war. Though she did not win the 1997 election, the following were promises of candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:
“Government is a sacred trust and those in positions of trust must be competent. They must be qualified. Nothing is more destructive to a good government than having unqualified people making important decisions.
“I will set the example by restricting myself to those appointments that are expressly reserved for the president under the Constitution, i.e., cabinet ministers, their deputies and assistants, and ambassadors.”
“At the start of the Liberian conflict, there were more than twenty government ministries and agencies. Add another twenty-five public corporations, and one begins to appreciate the magnitude of the public sector bloat. In relative and absolute terms, our government bureaucracy has simply become too big.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Election Eve Presidential Address to the Nation, 16 July 1997.
There are three problems facing Liberia, which collectively are blamed for the massive level of poverty in the country: (1) Grand Corruption (2) Incompetence and (3) Impunity. All of these, individually and together, produce bad corporate governance and a bad government. Each one of these problems seems to feed on the other.
The President has said a lot of things that have captured international headlines, but after the fanfare and headlines heaping praise for her, the President completely ignored her promises and commitment. Our focus, in this article, is on one of the key aspect of the president’s main promise at the onset of her second term in 2012. The President’s promised that each minister would sign a PERFORMANCE CONTRACT for year, from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. It is nearly two years and things seem to be getting worse by the hour in Liberia and no mention of the Performance Contracts. Not a single Minister has been dismissed because he or she did not meet the Performance Targets.
For the sake of simplicity, read the below information produced by the Liberian Government, the Executive Mansion and other news outlets:
“Liberia: Cabinet Ministers Sign Performance Contract - Promise Full Commitment in Achieving Targets
“As part of efforts to uphold the development legacy of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Cabinet Ministers have begun signing Performance Contracts jointly prepared by them and the Office of the President.
According to an Executive Mansion release, seven Ministers were among the first group that signed the Performance Contract following a Cabinet meeting. They included the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Health & Social Welfare, Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism, Commerce & Industry, Labor, Youth & Sports, and Internal Affairs.
Before signing the contracts, President Sirleaf challenged the Ministers to see development as dynamic and to expect a change or expansion in the targets they've set from time to time for the better of the country. “These priorities were set by you, and at the same time you solicited budgetary support to set these priorities," the Liberian leaders told her Cabinet, adding, "It's therefore my hope that we all will work together to deliver these priorities to our people."
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the Dean of the Cabinet, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, termed the exercise as a giant step and another milestone in leadership of President Sirleaf. He noted the paradigm shift in governance instituted by President Sirleaf that has set the bar for future Liberian leaders, and said they were grateful to be a part of the development legacy.
They pledged their commitment to meeting the targets stated within the contract - a commitment the Dean of the Cabinet said can only be achieved by collective efforts. "No one Minister will declare their targets achieved if the others fail, and this is why we have to work as a team for collective achievement. So it's collaboration from the Minister down to the janitor," the Foreign Minister declared.
Explaining the terms of the Performance Contract, the Director-General of the Cabinet, Dr. Momo Rogers, said the Performance Contracts signed between the Ministers and the President of Liberia cover a one-year period beginning October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.
The Contract asked each Minister to identify four projects (targeted goals) that can be achieved within a year and can be measured in tangible ways. "Because they are tangible, they are tied to the 2012/2013 Budget," Dr. Rogers noted.
He indicated that once Ministers identified targeted projects, the Cabinet Secretariat set up individual meetings with the President where they discussed and mutually agreed on these projects.
Dr. Rogers noted that with each individual Contract, President Sirleaf also has a part to play, including providing a strategic direction and overall supervision for the effective implementation of the targets; providing support to ensure timely delivery of the agreed targets or outputs; providing appropriate coordination and tracking mechanism by the Cabinet Secretariat to ensure other parties that should provide inputs to the Minister's efforts, do so and on time; and providing additional support from the Program Delivery Unit (PDU) in the Ministry of State, where the circumstances merit, to help them achieve their goals.
The Cabinet Secretariat and the PDU have been asked to monitor the Performance Contracts throughout the year, keeping track of progress or challenges every quarter of the reporting period.
On the signing of the Performance Contract, the Director-General of the Cabinet said that the President's intention is not to penalize Cabinet Ministers. "It's to give them the means to deliver effectively and efficiently; that's why she's tied each project to the budget," he said” .
“Liberia: Cabinet ministers sign contracts”
“MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signs "performance contracts" with her cabinet ministers to set specific targets and goals.
Johnson Sirleaf, 73, signed the first set of contracts Tuesday with eight ministers including those of health, labor, commerce, internal affairs and foreign affairs.
Under the agreements the ministers' work will be evaluated in June and December next year.
The signing of the contracts comes in less than one month after Johnson Sirleaf suspended 46 officials for failing to declare their assets upon taking office.
Johnson Sirleaf told The Associated Press, after the signings, that some of the suspended ministers have since declared their assets and said the action has paid off.
The president is in the first year of her second six-year term, ” AP, Sep. 18, 2012 2:12 PM EDT
“Five More Cabinet Ministers Sign Performance Contracts with President Sirleaf, Pledging to Live up to Commitments Made.
Monrovia, Liberia - Five more Cabinet Ministers signed Performance Contracts with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday, October 30th, bringing to 12 the number that have signed the documents jointly prepared by them and the Office of the President as part of efforts to promote Liberia’s development.
“Signing at Tuesday’s ceremony were: the Minister of Justice, Christiana Tah; the Minister of Public Works, Samuel Kofi Woods; the Minister of Education, Etmonia Tarpeh; the Minister of Gender and Development, Julia Duncan Cassell; and the Director General of the General Services Agency, Pearine Davis-Parkinson.
According to an Executive Mansion release, speaking President Sirleaf told the Ministers that she was pleased with the manner in which the Cabinet was working as a team for the country’s development. This is “a new era of performance-based and performance-bound commitment to deliver to the people,” the Liberian leader said, adding that Performance Contracts serve as a guiding tool.
The President said she wanted to complete the signing process so that full monitoring of performances could commence. Mindful that resources are needed in order to carry out the activities promised, the President called the process “dynamic,” and assured the Ministers that if they encounter challenges and obstacles, together they will look at the commitments they have signed on to, and make the necessary adjustments. “It is good that we have this to keep us focused,” she declared.
Responding on behalf of her colleagues, Minister Tarpeh thanked the President for the confidence she had placed in them, adding, “We are committed to live up to what we sign,”
On hand to witness the signing were: the Dean of the Cabinet, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan; the Minister of Internal Affairs, Blamo Nelson; the Minister of State without Portfolio, Conmany Wesseh; and the Legal Counsel to the President, Cllr. Seward Cooper.
At the first signing ceremony held on September 18, Performance Contracts were signed by the Ministers of: Foreign Affairs; Health and Social Welfare; Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism; Commerce and Industry; Labor; Youth and Sports; and Internal Affairs.
On that occasion, President Sirleaf challenged the Ministers to see development as dynamic and to expect a change or expansion in the targets they’ve set from time to time for the better of the country. “These priorities were set by you, and at the same time you solicited budgetary support to set these priorities,” she pointed out, and added, “It’s therefore my hope that we all will work together to deliver these priorities to our people.”
The Performance Contracts signed between Cabinet Ministers and the President cover a one-year period beginning October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. Each Minister was asked to identify four projects (targeted goals) that can be achieved within a year and can be measured in tangible ways.
President Sirleaf also has a part to play in the execution of the Performance Contracts, including providing a strategic direction and overall supervision for the effective implementation of the targets; providing support to ensure timely delivery of the agreed targets or outputs; providing appropriate coordination and tracking mechanism by the Cabinet Secretariat to ensure other parties that should provide inputs to the Minister’s efforts, do so and on time; and providing additional support from the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) in the Ministry of State, where the circumstances merit, to help them achieve their goals.
The Cabinet Secretariat, headed by the Director-General of the Cabinet, Dr. Momo Rogers, and the PDU have been asked to monitor the Performance Contracts throughout the year, keeping track of progress or challenges every quarter of the reporting period. Dr. Rogers pointed out that it was not the President’s intention to penalize Cabinet Ministers, but rather to give them the means to deliver effectively and efficiently, and that was why each project is tied to the budget, ” Executive Mansion, Tuesday, 30th October 2012
Yet, again, on August 11, 2014, the President announced that she would sack all officials who do not return to Liberia in a week. She "instructed all government officials currently out of the country, whether on government or private visit, to return home within a week or be considered as abandoning their jobs." The government officials currently out of the country include, but not limited to:
Seward Cooper NOCAL Board Chairman,
Amos Sawyer Governance Commissioner,
Benedict Sannoh Deputy Minister of Justice
Yusador Gaye Auditor General of Liberia
Wheantonia Y. Dixon Barnes Deputy Minister of Justice, Administration
Nazarene Brewer Tubman Maryland County Superintendent
Odell Kumeh Chief Medical Officer of Maryland County
Beside Foreign Minister N’gafuah and Maritime Commissioner Kesselley have sent their families out of the country.
It can also be recalled that in 2010, at the end of the cabinet retreat in Kakata, President Sirleaf said to her appointed officials that “the learning curve is over, shape up or shape out.” And also in 2011 she said to her officials to “lead or get out of the way.”
She is not leading by examples. This is why Ebola is spreading in the country at the speed of light.
More press, more public relations, more promises, more threats and the end results are the same under this President: No commitment from this flippant President to act on her own statements. We remembered the glorious promise of corruption being “public enemy number…and “zero tolerance.” In the end, the President put her neck on the “chopping board” for corrupt officials indicted in audit reports and blamed corruption on the “system” when the same system existed during Tubman, Tolbert, Doe, Taylor and Bryant era administration and she wasted no time to blast these presidents for promoting corruption and all forms of economic mismanagement.