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EXAMINATION ON THE ROLE OF POLITICAL WILL IN REFORMING CIVIL SERVICE EFFICIENCY IN CAMEROON: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

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EXAMINATION ON THE ROLE OF POLITICAL WILL IN REFORMING CIVIL SERVICE EFFICIENCY IN CAMEROON: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

It is said that, human behavior, outlook, attitude and others are constantly changing and the impact of these changes falls upon society in general and upon administration in particular. Therefore, it is important for the public administration to make the necessary reforms needed to meet this new demands which are results of changes in outlook and behavior. As a result, the public administration cannot remain static. There is therefore the need of reforming administration (Caiden 2018). In the words of (Gow 2020), administrative reform can be seen as a conscious, well-considered change that is carried out in a public sector organization or system for the purpose of improving its structure, operation or the quality of its workforce. For Caiden (2018), it is based on the simple idea that man should not wait for changes to take place naturally but should seek to speed, by artificial means, improvements in the world order while for Evans (2018) it involves all aspects of the management and organization of personnel that is, it includes programs to downsize the civil service and reforms to the personnel information system (including civil service census), the career paths, the pay grades (decompression), other aspects of the incentive system, as well as the organization of ministries. From the said definitions, administrative reforms is said to involve all aspects of governance, as it cannot only be limited to the economic aspects, but it can also target objectives concerning improvements to public life, such as eliminating patronage, nepotism and corruption, increasing representativeness, fostering the participation of citizens and groups, and enhancing accountability and transparency (Gow 2020).

One key aspect of this reform involves modernizing bureaucratic processes through the integration of technology and the elimination of redundant procedures. By leveraging digital tools for automation and streamlining workflows, civil service agencies can significantly reduce administrative burdens, minimize paperwork, and expedite service delivery. Additionally, promoting a culture of innovation and continuous improvement among civil servants fosters an environment where new ideas for efficiency gains are encouraged and implemented. Another pivotal component of civil service efficiency reform is ensuring meritocracy and accountability in recruitment, promotion, and performance evaluation processes. Implementing transparent and merit-based systems for hiring and advancement helps attract and retain top talent while reducing the risks of nepotism and favoritism. Furthermore, establishing clear performance metrics and accountability mechanisms enables supervisors to assess employee performance objectively and provide targeted support and recognition where needed. By aligning incentives with performance outcomes, governments can motivate civil servants to excel in their roles and contribute to overall organizational effectiveness

As concerns the public sector reforms in Cameroon, the Commonwealth Secretariat (2016) in a paper explains that, in 80s and 90s, the management of career and salaries of civil servants in cameroon was jointly managed by the ministry public service and that finance respectively. In order for these two computer applications to properly exchange information, a SIGIPES/ANTILOPE interface was established. These two applications that was designed for a centralised form of management soon became obsolete with the these shortcomings amongst which are: management by the ministry of public service of employees known only by their service number (without knowing the owner), cumbersome and unreliable methods of processing files, an inadequate number of staff in the ministry, inefficient control of the administrative situation of public employees, a long time spent in calculating the benefits of retired workers, lack of an accountability system and inconsistency of the computer application for the payroll with modern needs. In the face of the above shortcomings, the government decided, within the framework of the National Programme on Governance (NPG), to take up the reform challenge (‘Devolution of State Human Resources Management’), in order to ensure better and efficient management of state employees and for better results. The reform was materialized by the transfer to each user ministry of some of the attributions or competences hitherto entrusted to the ministries in charge of public service and finance. This strategy, which main emphasis was on the accountability of ministries using the services of state personnel, is based on the following concepts: accountability, efficient and satisfaction of users, services of proximity, reliable governance of government services, streamlining of personnel organization and management methods. The reform was aim to control the number of public employees and the state wage bill which resulted in a wide range of innovations and paved the way for a real change of organizational culture within the Cameroon public service (thecommonwealth.org).

Statement of problem

The role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon is a critical issue that warrants careful examination. Despite recognition of the need for reform to enhance the effectiveness and responsiveness of public services, progress has been hindered by various challenges, particularly the lack of sustained political commitment. According to a report by the World Bank (2019), Cameroon's civil service has been characterized by inefficiencies, bureaucratic hurdles, and corruption, which have undermined service delivery and hindered economic development. While there have been sporadic efforts to initiate reforms, the absence of consistent political will and leadership support has impeded the successful implementation and sustainability of these initiatives.

In a study by Amin (2020), one of the key challenges for reforms in most developing countries stemming from the lack of political will is the inconsistency in policy implementation and enforcement. Without firm backing from political leaders, reform initiatives often lack the necessary resources, institutional support, and enforcement mechanisms to effect meaningful change. This inconsistency breeds skepticism among civil servants and the public, leading to resistance to change and undermining the credibility of reform efforts. Additionally, political interference and patronage further exacerbate inefficiencies within the civil service, as appointments and promotions are often based on political loyalty rather than merit, eroding morale and undermining professional standards.

Furthermore, Ngwabie (2018) assert that the complex political landscape in Cameroon, characterized by ethnic divisions, regional disparities, and power struggles, poses significant obstacles to reforming civil service efficiency. Political considerations often take precedence over the long-term interests of institutional reform, leading to policy gridlock and inertia. Moreover, entrenched interests within the political elite may resist reforms that threaten their power or privilege, perpetuating the status quo of inefficiency and mismanagement. To address these challenges and unlock the prospects for reform, there is a critical need for genuine political commitment, consensus-building across political divides, and effective governance mechanisms that prioritize the public interest over narrow political interests. Upon this premise, the study seeks to examine the role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon: challenges and prospects

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study is focused on the role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon: challenges and prospects. Specifically, the study seeks:

To evaluate the level of political commitment and leadership support for civil service reform in Cameroon

To ascertain the challenges in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon

To identify strategies and interventions to cultivate and sustain political will for civil service reform

Research Question

What is the level of political commitment and leadership support for civil service reform in Cameroon?

What are the challenges in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon?

What are the strategies and interventions to cultivate and sustain political will for civil service reform?

Research Hypotheses

Ho: There is no significant role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon.

Ha: There is a significant role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon.

Significance of the Study

The significance of the study on the role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon lies in its potential to inform evidence-based policy interventions and institutional reforms that can catalyze positive change in governance and public service delivery. By systematically assessing the factors influencing political will and identifying strategies to enhance it, this study provides valuable insights for policymakers, civil society organizations, and development practitioners seeking to advance civil service reform agendas in Cameroon and similar contexts. Moreover, by shedding light on the challenges and prospects associated with political will, the study contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamics shaping governance processes and institutional change, thereby enriching academic scholarship and policy discourse on public sector reform.Furthermore, the outcomes of this study can contribute to building resilient and responsive governance systems that effectively address the needs and aspirations of citizens, thereby advancing Cameroon's socio-economic development agenda and promoting stability and prosperity in the region.

Empirically, the study constributes to the general body of knowledge and serve as reference material fr scholars and student who wishes to conduct further studies in related fiels.

Scope of the study

This study will focus on examining the role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency specifically within the context of Cameroon. It will investigate the challenges and prospects associated with political commitment to civil service reform, analyzing the dynamics of governance, institutional structures, and political processes shaping the reform agenda. The geographical scope of the study will encompass government officials and civil servants in  urban regions of Cameroon.

Limitations of the Stud

While this study aims to provide valuable insights into the role of political will in reforming civil service efficiency in Cameroon, it is important to acknowledge several limitations. Firstly, the study's reliance on qualitative and quantitative research methods may limit the depth of analysis and generalizability of findings. Due to time and resource constraints, the sample size for interviews and surveys may be limited government officials and civil servants in urban regions of Cameroon, potentially impacting the representativeness of perspectives gathered. Additionally, the study's focus on political will as a primary determinant of reform outcomes may overlook other important factors such as institutional capacity, socio-economic context, and external influences. Furthermore, the dynamic nature of political processes and governance dynamics in Cameroon may pose challenges in capturing and analyzing changes over time. Lastly, the study's geographical scope may be constrained by logistical considerations, potentially limiting the breadth of perspectives and experiences captured across different regions of the country. Despite these limitations, the study aims to provide valuable insights and recommendations for advancing civil service reform agendas in Cameroon and similar contexts.

Definitions of Key Terms

Political Will: Political will refers to the determination and commitment of political leaders and decision-makers to pursue specific policies, initiatives, or reforms, often in the face of opposition or challenges. It encompasses the willingness to allocate resources, overcome obstacles, and prioritize certain issues on the government agenda.

Civil Service Efficiency: Civil service efficiency pertains to the effectiveness, productivity, and responsiveness of government agencies and officials in delivering public services, implementing policies, and managing resources. It involves minimizing bureaucratic hurdles, optimizing processes, and achieving desired outcomes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Reform: Reform refers to deliberate and systematic changes or improvements made to institutional structures, policies, procedures, or practices aimed at addressing identified problems, enhancing performance, and achieving specific goals. In the context of civil service, reform typically involves measures to increase transparency, accountability, professionalism, and service delivery effectiveness.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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