Analysts say it will be difficult to implement performance contracts in the public service as public services are qualitative.
On Thursday President Emmerson Mnangagwa made his Cabinet ministers, heads of State-owned entities and parastatals sign performance contracts.
The signing ceremony was held at the Harare International Conference Centre, with several Cabinet ministers and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya among those who signed the contracts.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure told NewsDay that what is important in ensuring delivery in the public service is competence, unquestionable integrity and professionalism on the part of public service officials. Said Masunungure:
It must be appreciated that it is often problematic to accurately and fairly measure performance in a service delivery field because public services invariably tend to be qualitative.
Notwithstanding this difficulty, survey after survey tends to confirm deterioration in those things that touch the lives of ordinary Zimbabwean citizens.
The most effective antidote is competence, unquestionable integrity and professionalism on the part of the permanent secretaries as well as the appointing authority.
In too many instances, we tend to have square pegs in round holes and this lack of fit gravely undermines performance.
Also speaking to NewsDay, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika said the Constitution does not provide for such contracts. Said Kika:
At law, there is no requirement for such contracts for ministers and permanent secretaries. The Constitution has no such provision.
However, nothing prevents the President from having performance requirements for ministers and permanent secretaries set in contracts.
That doesn’t change the fact that ministers serve at the pleasure of the President — and labour law does not apply here.
Permanent secretaries, are public service officials and remain bound by applicable public service legislation, their government employment terms of reference, and the Constitution.
Any performance contracts signed directly with the President are additional to these.
Nhamo Mhiripiri, an analyst, said the country’s laws ( for example, the Official Secrets Act) did not allow for employment contracts to be publicised. He said:
It is difficult, for instance, to publish goals that involve national secrets. Such secrets include industrial and trade secrets, and national secrets.
It is, therefore, difficult to give a complete assessment of whether previous goals for permanent secretaries were fully achieved.
Permanent Secretaries for 21 Ministries were the first to sign the performance contracts last year.
Higher and Tertiary Education permanent secretary Fanuel Tagwira was recognised as the best performing secretary while Youth, Sport and Recreation secretary Thokozile Chitepo was adjudged to be the second.
Tagwira came out on top for presiding over the production of cofcol syrup, medical gas and the introduction of innovation hubs.
Chitepo was received credit for facilitating access to empowerment opportunities and training 22 000 youths on short leadership courses.