Ethiopia strives for a Good Governance mobilization

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Husnia Ahmed

Aug 14, 2014

Our country has for the last decade or so managed to achieve rapid and sustained economic growth making possible an impressive progress in ensuring socio economic development that has benefitted the cross-section of our society and inspired the hope that Ethiopia will in a not- so-distant future join the community of prosperous nations in the world.

The great leader, the late Meles Zenawi was a visionary leader, par excellence, and the architect of our Renaissance, who singlehandedly designed and handed over the roadmap to modern, developed and democratic Ethiopia. We have now in our possession strategies and policies emanating from this roadmap that have already proven their mettle. The consecutive double-digit growth that we have achieved in the last decade does indeed attest to the efficacy of our policies.

Ensuring the sustainability of our growth and taking it to the highest level will require improving good governance. In this regard there is a need for a concerted effort to dismantle the rent-seeking political economy and build a developmental and democratic one in its place where the prevalence of good governance is ensured.

This cannot however be achieved unless such an effort is made in the context of building a democratic developmentalist army organized for change. Our reform activities and our efforts at ensuring good governance should therefore be carried out in tandem with our vehement campaign against rent-seeking behavior and the political economy that enables it.

The government of Ethiopia in its Five-Year Plan emphasized the promotion of improved democratic governance, decentralization and reform of the justice system.

The first Human Rights Action Plan has been developed and launched as part of the National Mobilization for Good Governance. Its implementation has been accompanied by several policy forums, consultations, workshops and trainings aimed at building consensus and sustaining the participation of stakeholders and for sharing lessons learned.

Encouraging progresses have been achieved so far; for example:

The Human Rights Commission has built up its capacity to monitor government actions and has made some recommendations which have been implemented by the government. For example, improvement in prison conditions has come about as a result of the commission’s study on prison facilities and the recommendations from the reports which provided the basis for an increase in the annual budget of these prisons.

Support provided to the Human Rights Commission and the Ethiopian Institute of Ombudsman (EIO) has led to improved access to justice. UNDP’s support has facilitated the creation of over 126 legal aid centers across the country. The centers have provided services to 13,867 beneficiaries, of which 50 percent of them are women.

Enhanced capacity of the Ombudsman has led to increased access to information and reduction in maladministration.

For example from 2007 to 2013, the head office of the EIO received 30,857 cases and resolved 70 percent of it through mediation. As a result of the establishment of an Electronic Case Management in 2013, the number of cases received by EIO showed a 300 percent increase from the 2012 target it had set for itself. The system has led to real time information on government records and report of complaints.

By June 2013, 75 federal and regional government institutions had received and responded to an estimated 15,000 requests for information from the public on government business.

Through UNDP support in policy development, investigation/detection and awareness to the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), the average number of cases investigated and prosecuted in the last four years substantially increased.

In 2012 alone, 349 individuals were prosecuted and a guilty verdict passed on 248 of these individuals while in 2013 twelve senior government officials were charged with corruption and removed from office. In 2013 FEACC’s prosecution rate reached 67 percent, while its rate of conviction averaged 88.7 percent of cases received.

The frequency and depth of parliamentary oversight on government actions have increased both at federal and regional levels. Between 2007 and 2013, the Regional States Councils and City Councils oversight coverage increased from 30 percent to 75 percent.

In addition, the frequency and depth of oversight on government performance and public funds has improved both at federal and regional levels.

Currently, Parliamentary Standing Committees (SC) regularly review and provide critical feedbacks on plans, programmes and reports submitted by the executive organs under their supervision. The improved capacity of the oversight functions of Regional State Councils has led to a more timely execution of road, health and school facility developments around the country.

As part of a wider drive to women political empowerment, the Federal Parliament, Regional State Councils and City Councils moved to establish women’s forums and strengthen their capacity to enhance female parliamentarian contribution to government oversight, representation, and law making.

For instance, Oromiya Regional State Council has established a women’s forum in all of its woreda/ district councils while Amhara, Tigray and SNNPR have also established forums in 75 percent of their respective woredas. There are ongoing efforts in the other regional state councils to replicate these initiative

The House of Federation is now working to improve intergovernmental relations and constitutionalism. The Council for Constitutional Inquiry’s (CCI) has shown a significant effort to reduce its case load through training. From 2007 to 2013, the Council resolved 859 of the 965 cases submitted (98 percent) to it.

• The responsiveness of government institutions addressing human rights has shown a 30 percent increase from the 2011 baseline due to continued effort in building the capacity of democratic institutions. Access to justice has also increased with 13,867 Ethiopians (50 percent women) benefiting in 2013 from 126 legal aid centers around the country.

The Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission has shown a favourable performance and financial audit coverage showing an increased from 32percent in 2010 to 97percent in 2013 at the federal and regional level.

The absorption capacity of local government has improved by 20percent compared to that of the previous budgetary cycle.

Policy continuity and leadership development has improved as the Institute of Leadership and Good Governance (ILG), which in 2013 graduated its first class of 67 students with a Master of Art Degree.

415 ethics officers have gained skills in the implementation of the asset and income registration of public officials.

In this national mobilization for Good Governance, it is patently clear that the civil service has a fundamental role to play in this regard tasked as it is with the implementation of the various government policies and strategies and do so in a manner that keeps the speed and the momentum of the progress that we have made so far.

As the Coordinator, Good Governance and Reform Cluster stated recently the various initiatives that have been undertaken by our government to carry out reform and ensure good governance have come a long way in creating a civil service that is in a position to rise up to this particular challenge.

Encouraging results have been achieved in our efforts to put in place a civil service structure guided by the values of transparency and accountability.

It will therefore be an imperative-and our primary focus from now on- to see that the leadership at all levels; the entire civil service personnel and the public at large are mobilized in an organized manner so that each will effectively carry out its respective responsibilities in ensuring the success of the reform process.

Indeed, since 1991, the government embarked on a series of reform programs hinged on the idea of promoting Good Governance. In the early 1990s, the government launched Structural Adjustment program consisting Civil Service Reform Program (CSRP) as one of the components.

The phased reform measures have been taken by the government, and the first phase of the reform (1991-1996) focused on the restructure of government institutions and retrenchment program. The second phase of CSRP was launched in 1996. The five sub-programs pronged program includes: the top management system, expenditure management and control, The Human Resource management, Service Delivery and Ethics. The sub programs were further split into a number of projects.

There were six projects under the umbrella of Service Delivery Sub-Program: development of service delivery policy, grievance handling directives, award system in the civil service, Methods Integration of related public service (center links), and preparation of technical directives for improving civil service delivery and service delivery standard directives.

However, the implementation status of the aforementioned sub-programs as evaluated in 2001 (in the Capacity Building Strategy paper) by the government was below the expectation. This attributes to many factors like too much focus on technical aspects, rather than changing attitude of the workforce, impulsive start of implementation, and lack of committed political leadership.

Spanning over a decade, Ethiopia’s transformation agenda has evolved over three phases (1992, 1996-2000 and 2001 onwards) in response to a growing awareness that pervasive deficits in capacity have hampered the ability of the state to secure the fundamentals of poverty reduction and democratic development including responsive service delivery, citizen empowerment, and good governance.

Following the consolidation of power, the Government also acknowledged the deep institutional constraints on basic functions such as policymaking, service delivery, and regulation.

Core public management systems at the federal and regional levels were hampered by outdated civil service legislation and working systems; the absence of a medium-term planning and budgeting framework; ineffective financial and personnel management controls; inadequate civil service wages and inappropriate grading systems; poor capacity for strategic and cabinet-level decision-making; and insufficient focus on modern managerial approaches to service delivery.

In 1994, a task force was commissioned to conduct a diagnostic overview. The primary phase of diagnosis and taking stock of the problems facing the civil service ended in February, 1996, with the identification of weaknesses in the ways the civil service managed its financial and human resources, delivered services to the public, strategic priorities and performances and monitoring and evaluation of top management.

Following the identification of problems, efforts were made to reform the system by providing, among other things, training to civil servants at federal and regional levels.

In recognition of these constraints, the Government embarked on a comprehensive Civil Service Reform Program (CSRP) in 1996, marking the second reform phase. Indicative of Ethiopia’s “first generation” capacity building efforts, the CSRP sought to build a fair, transparent, efficient, effective, and ethical civil service primarily by creating enabling legislation, developing operating systems, and training staff in five key areas: (i) Expenditure Control and Management, (ii) Human Resource Management, (iii) Service Delivery, (iv) Top Management Systems, and (v) Ethics.

Successful efforts (for example, budgeting, planning, and accounting reforms) at the federal level were intended to provide prototypes for regional authorities. The CSRP was also influenced by the international New Public Management trend, and reforms in New Zealand in particular.

The good governance drive also faced some delays due to the Ethio-Eritrea border conflict 1998-2000. However, some achievements which may pave the way for full implementation of the CSRP were witnessed.

Among other things, the development of new legislation (for example, a financial management proclamation, a civil service law, a code of ethics, complaints-handling procedures, and a service delivery policy) as well as operating systems for budgeting, procurement, and some aspects of personnel management such as salary surveys and records management.

However, due to various problems including lack of capacity, only limited successes were made in bringing about improvements in performance and service delivery, effective policy formulation, programme and project execution as well as in tackling other problems of the civil service in general.

The problems are much more serious in regions such as Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela and Somalia where civil service performance and public service delivery are at a rudimentary stage. The problem is aggravated by weak civil service structures and human and institutional capacities.

The most recent reform phase began in September 2001, with the launch of the Public Sector Capacity Building Support Program (PSCAP), which also revived the CSRP. The Government has moved quickly to prepare the CSRP for its “full implementation” across all regions and levels of government. Pilot studies and special programs on performance and service delivery improvements in selected Ministries, Agencies, and Bureaus have been initiated.

These include; the establishment of focal points responsible for reform implementation across tiers of government; a series of workshops undertaken to sensitize the political leadership and civil servants across the country; and the launch of a “special program” of Performance and Service Delivery Improvement Policy (PSIP) in priority Ministries, Agencies, and Bureaus designed to deepen the implementation of performance management. PSIP, along with other reform programme areas, have promoted Business Process Reengineering (BPR) as a key management initiative, particularly in those ministries that interface directly with the private sector.

The civil service reform sub-programme (CSRP) is an integral part of a broader programme of multi-faceted reforms intended to build and strengthen public sector capacity for the attainment of the Government's socio-economic development goals and objectives. It aims at creating an enabling environment which will allow the civil service to function effectively and efficiently. It focuses on the development and implementation of appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks, and institutional and human resources as well as the introduction of improved management systems and best practices. The overall purpose is to build a fair, effective, efficient, transparent and ethical civil service through institutional reforms, systems development and training. The need for civil service reform is dictated by the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the existing system and the lack of capacity of organizations both in the public and private sectors to effectively manage and utilise available resources for bringing about sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

Based on lessons learned during the first half of 2002, the Government undertook relevant policy and institutional reform measures for full-scale implementation of the sub-programme with the following measures taken prior to startup of implementation: Placement of the responsibility to manage and co-ordinate the CSRP under the Civil Service Ministry; Restructuring the original CSRP co-ordinating office as a CSRP Office and strengthening its capacity to manage and co-ordinate implementation; Transferring ownership of the various reforms and accountability for their implementation to federal and regional institutions through a series of seminars delivered to top officials on the objectives of the CSRP and its components; Providing extensive training to staff from various federal and regional institutions so as to enable them spearhead implementation of reforms.

Full implementation of the good governance drive was launched at the beginning of September, 2002, and is now well underway. As a start-up move, civil service reform offices were established in key federal and regional institutions to provide technical support in planning and management.

The overall objective of the CSRP is to enhance the capacity of the civil service so that it will be effective, efficient, transparent, accountable, ethical, performance oriented, and that it promotes good governance, provides client-oriented service delivery and is supportive of the Government’s social and economic development policies and private sector development.

The most important beneficiary of the CSRP is the Ethiopian public who will deal with a client-responsive civil service providing quality services with integrity. At the end of the reform, the civil service staff and work force will be a self-confident, competitive group inspired by a sense of service to the public. The private sector will reduce its transaction costs of doing business with the civil service.

The outcome of all these efforts was great and tremendous. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi summed it up in 2011:

Unlike all previous governments, our writ runs in every village. That has never happened in the history of Ethiopia. The state was distant, irrelevant. You paid tribute from time to time and if you didn’t like it you rebelled. That’s the history of Ethiopia.

Now we have a formally structured state, there is a school in every village and clinics in every village, roads, and infrastructure.

The new constitution is working; people are beginning to feel part of a larger entity. They are beginning to feel the benefits of belonging to a larger country.

Indeed, the Civil Service will continue its role as a major agent of change and development!

This week the second National Good Governance Movement Forum started in Addis Ababa in the presence of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, ministers, state chiefs, university presidents and public representatives are in attendance.

Opening the event, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said problems with good governance present a challenge in the nation's fight against poverty and ignorance.

He called on government officials and leaders at various levels to work closely with the public to promote good governance.

On the occasion, Coordinator of the Finance and Economy Cluster with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael presented the performance of the country’s telecom sector until June 2014.

Dr. Debretsion said long and short term strategies are being carried out to resolve problems with accessibility. New network expansion projects are also underway currently in Addis Ababa, he added.

Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, AlemayehuTegenu for his part briefed the participants about the provision and distribution of electricity.

Minister of Trade, KebedeChane, also presented his ministry’s performance in customer service and promotion of good governance.

 



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