Monday, July 13, 2020

Is A Minister A Pawn Of The President Simply Conveying Executive Directives?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Section 81 subsection (1) of the Constitution

“Where the Vice-President or a minister has been  charged with responsibility for any department of the Government, he or she shall exercise general direction and control over that department; and  subject to  such  direction  and control,  the  department  shall  be  under the supervision of a permanent secretary whose office shall be an office in the public service.”

This confirms that a minister should not be a robot conveying executive directives from the presidency. They are supposed to exercise a degree of independence displaying professionalism in carrying out their mandate with a degree of conscience. A government will totally lack integrity if a president undermines the autonomy of ministers and transforms them into marionettes who simply dance to his or her tune. That will not yield an open society. It will simply paralyse state administration as every decision becomes paralysed by political interest. This is made worse when interest groups in communities are transformed into lobby groups strong enough to impose their will on a ministry.

When such a situation becomes the norm integrity disappears and the regime becomes a pariah at home and abroad.

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