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Friday, June 14, 2024

CSA DIRECTOR GENERAL JOEKAI ACCUSED OF HYPOCRISY AND CRONYISM IN CONTROVERSIAL CONSULTANT HIRES

Date:

MONROVIA – In a sharp contradiction to his professed commitment to transparency and accountability, Director General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Josiah F. Joekai, is under fire for reportedly facilitating the employment of 23 consultants at the CSA. These appointments were allegedly made at the behest of Vice President Jeremiah Koung. Notably, some of the names submitted are current civil servants in Vice President Koung’s office, being replaced to make room for new hires.

This alleged maneuver contradicts the government and CSA’s previous stance on reducing the number of consultants in government institutions due to the high costs involved. The CSA had previously criticized Minister Cooper Kruah of the Ministry of Labor for attempting to fill approximately 93 positions already occupied, which raised concerns about the integrity and non-partisan nature of the civil service. Director-General Jokai had emphasized that the CSA, as an independent institution, maintains a strict policy against politically motivated actions, ensuring that employment decisions are based solely on merit and the needs of the civil service.

Director-General Jokai had earlier reprimanded Minister Kruah, stating, “Hon. Minister, the Civil Service Agency does not engage in business with political parties. Therefore, your request to consider the four individuals cannot be considered for employment purposes.” He further noted that Minister Kruah’s request violated the CSA’s employment freeze, effective since February 16, 2024, which aimed to maintain stability within the civil service and prevent political influence during the employment process.

In a communication dated March 5, 2024, Minister Kruah had requested employment consideration for four individuals, describing them as “outstanding.” However, the CSA responded that it does not engage with political parties and instructed Minister Kruah to reverse the illegal human resource transactions, adhering to the laws and policies governing the Civil Service. A subsequent communication on April 5, 2024, reiterated that Minister Kruah’s decision to transfer and reassign employees violated Chapters 3 and 4 of the Civil Service Standing Orders of 2012, which mandate that all human resource movements must receive approval from the Director-General before implementation.

Adding to the controversy, sources revealed that President Joseph Boakai appointed seven ministers from Nimba County, including Senator Prince Y. Johnson’s daughter, who serves as Assistant Minister for Regional Labour Affairs. Other appointees include Mr. Emmanuel Zorh, Jr., Mr. Rufus T. Saylee, Mr. Rufus Kolako Freeman, Raphael E. Donokolo, Deputy Minister for Administration Othello P. Mansuo, and Minister Kruah himself. The concentration of individuals from the same region within a single ministry has been criticized as unprofessional and unhealthy.

Moreover, Minister Kruah has allegedly instructed the human resource department to hire 94 individuals, all of whom are reportedly his kinsmen. This kind of regional favoritism has sparked concerns about the equitable distribution of government positions and resources, potentially fueling ethnic tensions and undermining national unity. Critics argue that such practices erode the public’s trust in the government’s commitment to fair and merit-based employment.

These developments have sparked significant concern over the CSA’s commitment to its stated principles of non-partisanship and merit-based employment. The apparent contradictions between Director-General Jokai’s previous statements and the recent actions raise questions about the integrity and transparency of the civil service under his leadership. Observers note that this situation exemplifies the challenges in maintaining a truly independent and non-partisan civil service in Liberia.

Critics argue that such actions undermine public trust and the goal of building a fair and accountable government in Liberia. They contend that the CSA’s credibility is at stake, and without stringent measures to uphold its policies, the agency risks becoming another tool for political manipulation. The integrity of Liberia’s civil service hinges on the ability of its leaders to act impartially and adhere to established rules and regulations.

The controversy surrounding these appointments highlights the ongoing challenges in ensuring a transparent and meritocratic civil service in Liberia. It brings to the forefront the need for robust oversight mechanisms to prevent abuse of power and ensure that government appointments are made based on merit rather than political favoritism. The CSA must reassert its role as a guardian of civil service integrity to restore confidence among the public and civil servants alike.

It remains to be seen how the CSA and the broader government will address these issues and restore confidence in their commitment to genuine reform and accountability. Ensuring transparency and accountability in government operations is crucial for the development of a democratic and fair society. The actions taken in response to these allegations will significantly impact the public’s perception of the government’s dedication to these principles.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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