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The Contract System of Employment for Senior Government Officials

Experiences from Africa

image of The Contract System of Employment for Senior Government Officials

This publication reviews the effects of the reforms implemented under the ‘new public management’ programme on the roles and conditions of service of permanent secretaries and directors in Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia. These countries introduced the contract system of employment, and their experience highlights the importance of acknowledging context in considering the implications of the contract system, and the challenges of implementation.

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Conclusion – A Comparative Assessment of the Findings

Basic information from the field visits (see Table 4) indicates that the four countries – Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia – have been engaged in various public sector reform projects, and have instituted employment contracts (i.e. contract of service) and contract-like arrangements which are associated with the new management of senior public service officers including the permanent secretaries. The permanent secretary in each country is still effectively the chief executive of the ministry/department or administrative region. This senior public service officer is called a chief director (formerly principal secretary) in Ghana, whereas the other three countries have retained the name permanent secretary. The data show (Table 4) that Uganda had 17 (out of an expected 21), Zambia 42, Ghana 37 and Botswana 29 permanent secretaries/chief directors respectively. Of these, all 17 permanent secretaries are on employment contract in Uganda; all 42 in Zambia are also on employment contracts; and all 29 in Botswana have signed a performance agreement. Ghana has a mixed basket, with only 8 of the 37 chief directors on employment contract of three to four years and 22 on open tenure (or permanent and pensionable) while 3 are on an employment contract which is called ‘limited engagement’. A ‘limited engagement’ contract is normally a short-term contract of between one and three years’ duration. It tends to be given to chief directors who have just retired, but whose services are still needed by the state. All the chief directors in Ghana also sign a performance agreement. The age of retirement in Botswana, Ghana and Uganda is 60 years, and it is pegged at 55 for Zambia.

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