Caretakers in charge as Kabul prevaricates
Instead of appointing heads of provincial offices including governors, caretakers are in charge in many districts in the western zone. An investigation.
From information gathered from local authorities in the western zone, 16 districts have caretaker governors. Similarly, 33 directors and presidents, 60 office managers and 426 offices are administrated by caretakers.
In interviews with The Killid Group they said the caretakers have been in charge for two and more years. Local officials say district governors have not been appointed in five districts of Herat province, four each in Farah and Badghis, and three districts in Ghor province.
This apart, 20 posts of presidents and directors in Herat, 7 in Farah, four in Badghis and two posts in Ghor are being managed by caretakers.
Also, 54 posts of office mangers and 414 officers in Herat, five posts of office managers and eight officers in Badghis province and one post of office manager and four officers in Ghor province are managed by caretakers.
Some members of parliament as well as provincial councils have sharply criticised the work done by caretakers in local offices of the western zone. They believe that handing over charge to caretakers is both unlawful and damaging. They believe political differences among the leaders of the national unity government as well as their efforts to leverage political benefits for themselves have caused prolonging of the life of caretakers in offices in the western zone.
The authorities in the local offices of four provinces – Herat, Farah, Ghor and Badghis – blame the indifference of central officials and the weakening of power in the palace and ministries as main reasons for posts remaining in the care of caretakers.
In fact, caretakers are not interested in good governance and all work in offices under them has ground to a halt, local officials say. It is one of the reasons why implementation of government development programmes in rural areas has been poor.
Jailani Farhad, spokesperson for the provincial governor, says there are 62 posts of presidency and 19 districts as well as 5 posts of district governors that are being managed by caretakers. Previously caretakers were in charge of 8 posts of district governors and 25 posts of presidency, office manager and officer. Farhad told Killid in an interview that the local provincial administration has submitted written requests to the concerned ministries to appoint permanent staff.
Letters have also been sent to the independent authority of local organs, but neither the ministries nor authority has responded.
Some posts have had caretakers for three years, the spokesperson revealed. This has created problems for local administrations since caretakers do not have legal authority. Service delivery and people's problems have suffered.
Farhad provided sector-based data on posts held by caretakers. The list includes transport, airport, mastofiat (provincial finance office), urban development and housing, Red Crescent Society, technology and communication, teacher training, oil and gas, commerce and industries, audit in the western zone, women's affairs, custom office, population registration office, statistics office, regional hospital, presidency of tribes and clans and nomads presidency.
Moreover, according to his information, governors in districts such as Enjeel, Kohsan, Farsi, Obae and Golran are also caretakers. As per law, recruitment for the posts of office managers as well as officers in provinces is the responsibility and authority of the local administration.
Abdul Aziz Quraishi, acting director of human resources in the Herat governor's office, says caretakers are managing 54 posts of office managers and 414 posts of officer. According to Quraishi, the amendment in procedure of competition processes set by the commission of administrative reforms and civil services is the main reason for delay in selection of qualified individuals for government posts. He also says 400 posts of officers that include grade 4 and 5 have been put up for competition and a qualifying exam will be held once the procedure commission of administrative reforms and civil services is finalised.
The logjam in the provincial administration has been blamed by Toryalai Taheri, a deputy in the Herat provincial council, on the central government's indifference as well as lack of vision and unity among leaders of the national unity government. As a result, caretakers have created a paralysis in governance much to the dissatisfaction of people, and anarchy in provincial offices.
Farah is second on the list of provinces in the western zone where offices are under caretakers. Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesperson for the provincial governor, says the number of caretakers have increased this year compared to the last. He says there were only three managing three presidencies in 2016 but it has increased to seven posts in presidencies and four district governors. According to him, this was because some heads of offices have retired, and some have gone abroad for higher studies.
On the basis of Mehri's information 30 posts of presidents, 17 of office managers and 40 officers have been created in presidencies in the governor's office, custom office, lands authority, environment protection agency, statistics authority, education and women's affairs. All are managed by caretakers. He says there are caretaker heads in the Anaradara, Parchaman, Khak Safed and Balabollook districts.
Mehri also insists that the continuation of work by caretakers has caused disagreements and anarchy in service delivery to people as well as on time implementation of the projects in Farah province.
Jamila Amini, member of the Farah provincial council, believes that the continuation of work by caretakers in Farah shows the weakness of the leadership of the government of national unity. She insists that most of the benefits of work by caretakers go to the leaders of the central government. She reasons that the leaders are seeking to invest in the coming election by putting their friends in government posts and keeping supporters satisfied. According to her, if the government continues to depend on caretakers, the gulf between people and the government will only widen.
The province of Badghis is divided in five districts but only one – Jowand – has an official district governor. The rest are managed by caretakers.
In an interview with Killid, Faiz Mohammad Mirzazada, deputy governor of Badghis, says the province has 45 posts of presidents, office manager and officers but four posts each of presidents and district governors, five of office managers and eight officers are under caretakers for the last two years.
Moreover, in the districts of Qades, Abakamari, Balamurghab and Maqour the presidencies of counter narcotics, public health, commerce and industries and tackling natural disasters are also managed by caretakers. He insists provincial offices have frequently urged the central government authorities to replace caretakers with permanent staff but no attention has been paid.
The total number of posts of presidency, office managers and officers is 30 in the province. Mohammad Naser Khashea, governor of Ghor, says caretakers were managing 8-10 posts of the presidency last year but only two posts of president, one of office manager and four officers are under them now. He went on to add that the caretakers also now manage three posts of district governors.
According to Khashea, the caretakers are managing the posts of education, counter narcotics, tribes and clans as well as the districts of Lalwasarjangal, Charsada and Dawlatyar. He says caretakers created problems for the local administration in implementing development projects and delivery of administrative services to people. Fazalhaq Ehsan, head of Ghor provincial council, says the repeated extensions given by the central government to caretakers was contrary to the law, and the leaders of the national unity government were after their own personal interests by retaining caretakers in offices.
Ehsan says the partners in power in the national unity government are looking to retaining influence in government offices by putting their relatives in jobs.
Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, a Member of Parliament, blames caretakers for casting doubts on good governance. Inefficiency has increased and people are dissatisfied and feel estranged from the government.
Majrooh urged leaders of the central government to ensure transparency in the recruitment process.
However, both the press office of the president's palace as well as the independent authority of local organs rejects the allegations of political differences in the leadership of the government of national unity and charges that the lack of transparency in the process of new recruitments was being "managed" by caretakers.
Dawakhan Minapal, deputy spokesperson of the palace, insists there the leaders of the central government are not in conflict over the work of caretakers. Neither does the latter influence the elections of the president or members of parliament. He is also of the view that the continuation of caretakers was not in the interests of future elections.
Meanwhile, Munira Yusufzada, spokesperson for the independent authority of local organs, insists the process of hiring district governors, mayors and heads of secretariats of governors was completely transparent. According to her information, 20 posts of district governor, mayor and secretariat of the governors are empty and would soon be filled. She reiterated that the posts would be up for competition.