By: Saidu Jalloh

Since the early 1980s, the government of Sierra Leone has grappled with the need to reform the public sector. Several public service reform initiatives have been undertaken, but they have fallen short of intended outcomes due to political constraints. These constraints prevented addressing underlying problems such as inefficient decision-making, excessive staffing, lack of effective incentives and sanctions, and poor service quality. Excessive powers of political appointees further hindered progress.

Sierra Leone, a success story of international intervention ending a brutal civil war, has faced disillusionment due to slow progress in addressing issues like corruption and resource access exclusion. The hiring process for civil servants initially aimed to create a professional, apolitical workforce, instilling values of hard work and integrity in non-university graduate appointees.

The problem emerged when political appointees and civil servants began viewing each other as rivals, impacting public service delivery. Significant political events between 1965 and 1967 damaged the impartiality and neutrality of the civil service, reducing it from a respected institution to a pawn in political games.

Inadequate remuneration remains a persistent issue for Sierra Leone’s civil service. Despite the expectation of dedicated service to the state, civil servants struggle with low pay, impacting their ability to meet personal and family obligations in a culture of extended family support.

This article explores the determinants of civil service structure, focusing on the use of political appointees (short-lived agents) versus civil servants (long-lived agents). Unlike political appointments, civil service positions do not terminate with an administration change. However, in Sierra Leone, political appointees often seek permanent status, raising questions about the need for civil servants to undergo the uncertainty of job changes every five years.

Civil servants, with power derived from the laws of the land, play a crucial role in government administration. However, the accountability of civil servants compared to politicians is practically nonexistent. To ensure successful governance, collaboration between politicians and civil servants is essential.

Civil servants, considered national assets, should remain impartial in providing public service. Sierra Leone prohibits civil servants from joining political parties to prevent bias in service delivery. The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of salary harmonization to prevent experienced civil servants from turning to politics for better remuneration, promoting a more stable and efficient public sector.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here