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ASSESSMENT ON THE IMPACT OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE ON PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: A CASE STUDY OF DOUALA LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN CAMEROO

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ASSESSMENT ON THE IMPACT OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE ON PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: A CASE STUDY OF DOUALA LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Across many African nations, the general populace has transformed into a platform, with politicians striving to uphold their faction within it and expand their influence across all sectors of public administration. Public administration refers to the execution of government policies and programs, as well as the supervision of public resources (Stillman, 2020). Public administration involves a broad array of tasks, such as developing policies, creating plans, allocating funds, carrying out actions, and assessing the effectiveness of government initiatives and services. As stated by Fomunyoh (2022). Public administrators, often government employees, have a vital responsibility in guaranteeing the successful and productive provision of public goods and services to residents. 

Public administration encompasses a range of activities, such as personnel management, financial management, procurement, and service delivery. These duties are performed within an intricate institutional structure that comprises government agencies, regulatory bodies, and other public sector entities which allows for proper management of public good. 

Hanekom and Thornhill (2023) mentioned that public administration, which developed in the United States of America, aims to separate politics from administration. The prevailing view is that politics should focus on policy-making, while administration should focus on implementing policies. Public administration is influenced by political, social, economic, and cultural factors. These factors shape policy priorities, resource allocation decisions, and administrative practices. As a result, collaboration and coordination among multiple stakeholders, including government officials, citizens, non-governmental organizations, and international agencies, are necessary. 

Bizarrely, in third world countries, public administration has become centered on executive governmental institutions and this happens to be the place where politicians dominate in other to loot funds meant for public good. Nwodo (2020) mentioned that political interference occurs when political leader(s) interfere with decision making in public administrative matters such as planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting as well as allocation and use of public funds.  Uforo (2021) assert that because of the political activities in the administration of the state and the undue influence of the politicians the public and administration institution gets politicized (Bendor, et al 2023). According to Duch et al (2020) politicization of the public administration institution involves the appropriation of administrative structures and resources and the displacement of administrational goals by organized political and community interests. Political interference refers to the involvement of political actors, such as elected officials or political party members, in administrative processes, decision-making, and personnel appointments within public institutions. Khan (2018) assert that the allocation of resources is often subject to political interference in third world countries. Politicians may redirect funds intended for public services towards projects that serve their electoral interests or benefit their supporters. This diversion of resources not only hampers the delivery of essential services but also perpetuates inequality and undermines public trust in government institutions

The typical division of government in Cameroon is into a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary requires the powers of one branch/pillar not to conflict with the powers associated with the other branches (Ntliziywana, 2019). Despite the above, power separation remains a big challenge confronting public institutions be it at the national or local government levels, where the political leaders have failed to adopt a healthy and positive attitude towards performance of public administration officers (Wangwe, 2012). In short they do not allow an autonomous public administration movement to grow. Political interference in public administration can manifest in various forms, including patronage appointments, manipulation of procurement processes, and interference in day-to-day operations (Olowu & Ahmed, 2020). Such interference often undermines merit-based recruitment and promotion practices, leading to inefficiencies, corruption, and a lack of professionalism within public institutions (Awa, 2018). 

As stated by Dixit, and Pindyck, (2021) in the supply of roads, schools, hospitals in the developing countries, politics plays a role. Among various leadership challenges facing low developing democratic countries especial African countries is the political interference in administrations. Smith (2019) argued that in third world countries, political interference in public administration is often evident in appointments and promotions within bureaucratic structures. Political leaders frequently appoint individuals based on loyalty rather than merit, leading to the politicization of administrative positions. This practice undermines the principle of a merit-based civil service and diminishes the capacity of public servants to perform their duties impartially and competently.

1.2 Statement of problem

Public administration is a critical component of governance, responsible for the implementation of policies and delivery of services to citizens (Olowu & Ahmed, 2020). However, in many third world countries like Cameroon, the effectiveness and efficiency of public administration are often compromised by political interference. Jreisat, (2021) in his study found out that political interference can hinder the autonomy and independence of public administrators, constraining their ability to make impartial decisions and adhere to professional standards. This can erode public trust in government institutions and undermine the legitimacy of the state.

 Despite the recognition of the detrimental effects of political interference on public administration, empirical studies examining its impact in specific contexts, such as Douala Local Government in Cameroon, are limited. Therefore, this study seeks to address this gap by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the impact of political interference on public administration in Douala.

1.3 Objective of the study

The aim of this study is focused on assessment on the impact of political interference on public administration: a case study of Douala Local Government in Cameroon. Specifically, the study seeks to:

To assess the forms of political interference in public administration within Douala Local Government in Cameroon.

To find out whether political interference affects the autonomy, professionalism, and decision-making processes of public administrators in Douala.

To analyze the effects of political interference on governance outcomes, service delivery, and public trust in Douala Local Government.

To identify strategies and recommendations for mitigating the negative effects of political interference and enhancing the professionalism and effectiveness of public administration in Douala.

1.4 Research Questions

What are the forms of political interference in public administration within Douala Local Government in Cameroon?

Does political interference affect the autonomy, professionalism, and decision-making processes of public administrators in Douala?

What are the effects of political interference on governance outcomes, service delivery, and public trust in Douala Local Government?

What are the strategies and recommendations for mitigating the negative effects of political interference and enhancing the professionalism and effectiveness of public administration in Douala.?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Ho: There is no significant impact of political interference on public administration in Douala Local Government in Cameroon.

Ha: There is a significant impact of political interference on public administration in Douala Local Government in Cameroon.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings can inform policy reforms aimed at reducing political interference, enhancing the autonomy of public administrators, and improving governance effectiveness. : By identifying the challenges faced by public administrators due to political interference, this study can contribute to the development of training programs and capacity-building initiatives. These initiatives can equip administrators with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate political pressures while upholding professionalism and integrity in their roles.

More so, the study findings can advocate for mechanisms to strengthen accountability measures and increase transparency in decision-making processes within Douala Local Government. It can encourage dialogue between citizens, civil society organizations, and government officials to address governance challenges and foster greater citizen involvement in decision-making.

Empirically, the study will contribute to the existing literature on public administration, governance, and political interference in developing countries, particularly within the context of Cameroon. The findings can serve as a basis for further research and scholarly inquiry into the dynamics of political interference and its effects on governance and service delivery.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study borders on assessment on the impact of political interference on public administration: a case study of Douala Local Government in Cameroon.  The empirical scope will cover various forms of political interference, including patronage appointments, manipulation of procurement processes, and interference in day-to-day operations. It will analyze how these forms of interference manifest in public administration practices and decision-making processes. The geographical scope will focus specifically on Douala Local Government in Cameroon, considering its significance as an urban center and economic hub. While findings may have broader relevance, the scope will be limited to this particular locality to provide a focused and in-depth analysis.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

The findings of the study may be specific to the context of Douala Local Government in Cameroon and may not be directly generalizable to other regions or countries. Variations in political, cultural, and institutional factors may limit the applicability of the findings beyond the study area. Also, the study's reliance on a specific sample of public administrators, elected officials, civil society representatives, and citizens may introduce sampling bias. The perspectives and experiences of individuals not included in the study sample may not be fully represented, impacting the comprehensiveness of the findings. Furthermore, the collection of data on sensitive topics such as political interference may be challenging due to potential reluctance or fear of reprisal among participants. This could limit the depth of insights gathered and affect the validity of the findings. Regardless, the researcher will be acknowledging these limitations and ensure maintaining transparency and rigor in the research process and interpreting the study findings accurately.

1.9 Definition of Key Terms

Political Interference: Political interference refers to the involvement or influence of political actors, such as elected officials, political party members, or government representatives, in administrative processes, decision-making, and operations within public institutions. It often involves attempts to manipulate or control administrative functions for political purposes, potentially undermining the autonomy, professionalism, and effectiveness of public administration.

Public Administration: Public administration is the implementation of government policies and programs by administrative agencies and officials. It encompasses a range of activities, including policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation, as well as the management of public resources and provision of public services. Public administrators are responsible for overseeing and carrying out these functions within governmental organizations.


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