The dream and cry of citizens to have a well-functioning public sector that delivers quality services consistent with their preferences is yet to be realised. The efforts to make that dream come true seem to be rolling, but we shall have to wait for quite a long time.
We know that an ineffective public service is a complex issue intertwined with diverse factors but let the government keep working to ensure an effective service industry is in place.
This we say from what we see and hear. A normal mwananchi continues to live amidst the challenges that hampers their well-being. The challenges are many. It may take time to sort them out. To mention a recent few, heightened conflicts over land, and limited participation by people in the management of their welfare.
We live in a society characterised by persistent failure, by public servants to deliver services that would extend equal opportunity, dignity and worth to wananchi. Ours is a society that can be identified by inequalities in access to good schools, decent healthcare, nutrition and so much more.
With all the efforts being made, the level and quality of public service which is fairly improving, leaves wananchi wishing that the state of being less free, less fair and less united is wiped out.
Much is being talked about the need to improve. This is very good. But of all the barriers to public service delivery, those commonly discussed in public, one of them has not been given priority. It is the problem of limited morale in public service, that is, the level of confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline during service delivery.
From the public voice tone this is a problem. The signs that there low morale and public servants are unmotivated can be sensed in public service in the form of increased absenteeism, bad-mouthing in the workplace, high incidence of complaints and/or grievances. Yes, lack or limited morale is one of the forces which restrict opportunity, not only for some citizens, but when some suffer, the less morale culture inflicts injuries on all.
Morale in the public service is such an important value. If it is less that means it can have repercussions leading to institutional dysfunction that can prevent socio-economic development. In fact the less morale is linked to indiscipline, inefficiency, lack of accountability and immorality in public service.
The public sector needs to design interventions to promote the culture of hard work, self-confidence, self- esteem, creativity, and innovation and moral integrity among government workers. As citizens, when we hear public servants complaining, just because the environment is not conducive, we lose hope and conclude that those serving us are no longer able to maintain belief in their offices and institutions.
We call for responsible people to help public servants for high quality public service. We hear that BRN (Big Results Now) has generated good lessons which would warrant scaling up with the view of entrenching work culture and attitudes. That is fine. But to make it much more effective, impetus should be directed towards revisiting it.
And morale can be raised. It is culture which can be created. In order to ensure that every citizen is given the opportunities they deserve, morale should be raised. You speak to public servants today some say more must be done to reform our welfare and make work pay. There is a cry for full and productive employment as well as decent work. Some say much is taken from them as tax, and they wish initiative should not only be directed towards lowering taxes for the poorest, but multiple taxes paid by public servants is of great concern.
I sure every mwananchi wish that morale was among the values that would be taken as an immediate priority. There is a gap to be filled, and that is to bring back the confidence in the public service so as to lift their morale.
Dr Alfred Sebahene is a lecturer at St. John’s University of Tanzania