Retirement and the Zambia Public Service Reform Programme in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, 1993-2003
Malambo, Chitentu Annie
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Retrenchment of the Public Service was part of the restructuring that took place during the Public Services Reform Programme (PSRP) of 1993. Among others, the aims of government through the PSRP were: to restructure to make the Public Service leaner through a targeted retrenchment programme so that the costs of running it can be manageable, bring efficiency in the delivery of public services through performance related incentives for a smaller and better remunerated workforce and the creation of professionalism by way of attracting and retaining skilled and professional staff. The goal of the PSRP was to improve the quality, delivery, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of public services to the people of Zambia. The PSRP was to be undertaken in all central government ministries including provinces and district offices as well as local authorities under the responsibility of the Management Development Division, Cabinet office while this study focused on Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO). Government through the PSRP particularly retrenchment made efforts to improve performance in the delivery of public services and also reducing the wage bill; however there is no clear evidence of improvement while similar efforts prior to 1993 met with challenges. The question remains: did retrenchment of the PSRP of 1993 meet its intended objectives in MACO. The general objective of this Study was to investigate the extent retrenchment in MACO led to a learner and efficient Public Service with a highly motivated and professional staff. The target population was MACO and farmers being recipients of the ministry’s public services. Primary data was collected from both target populations. The sample size was 66 of MACO employees, 60 of whom were administered with questionnaires and 6 from management were interviewed. Research was undertaken at the Ministry’s Headquarters and Provincial Agricultural Coordinator’s offices in Lusaka, Central, Southern and Eastern provinces and the Department of Veterinary and Livestock Development, Lusaka. For farmers, 70 questionnaires were administered in Kanakantapa, Chongwe District, Shibuyunji, Mumbwa District, and Kaleya in Mazabuka District. Secondary data was from books, journals, reports from MACO, Bank of Zambia, Cabinet office, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, University of Zambia Library, and Internet. Data analysis was done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences and interpretation made. Retrenchments in MACO did take place during the restructuring of 1997/1998 after developing the 1994 Strategic Plan that was approved in 1995 and consequently the 2001 Strategic Plan. The planned targeted establishment reduction was 5,000 from 7, 000 (Public Expenditure in the Agricultural Sector: 1996 – 2000). The process commenced with the advertisement of all positions in the new organizational structure and employees had to apply and interviewed. Those who did not qualify in the new structure and could not be fitted in were given option whether to go down in rank or leave the system such as: Typists and some Administrative staff included under the Casual Daily Employees. Some positions were scraped off. Through the Voluntary Separation Packages (VSP), 270 employees lost employment (Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries, Semi-Annual Report; 1st October 1998 to 31st March 1999). In the 2000 Annual Report, the Human Resources and Administration indicated 165 VSP cases. By year 2003, there was some decrease in the size of the Civil Service Establishment from 6,614 to 6,396 with an increase for Non Civil Servants from 1,350 to 1,411. The financial implication on the personal emoluments was a nominal wage increase from K36,751,765,202 to K36,821,953,264 for the Civil Service and from K8,616,529,624 to K10,095,606,616 for Non Civil Service. The new organizational structures resulting from the 1994 and 2001 Strategic plans enhanced efficiency and professionalism as qualified people were recruited. Motivation through improved remuneration was not achieved greatly as there was no comprehensive salary review. Further established that hindrances to efficiency in the delivery of services prior to retrenchment continued: inadequate funding and transport, and internal processes and procedures that resulted in delays. Overall, the PSRP had positive results as some objectives were met. Users indicated some positive effects apart from delays in the delivery of services like the provision of inputs and purchase of produce where the government played a major role through policies.