Heads of public service from 19 Commonwealth Africa countries are meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, this week to explore ways of improving the interaction between politics and public service to foster sustainable development in their countries.
The meeting from 23 to 26 July 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the Forum of Commonwealth Heads of African Public Service. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Governance and Institutional Development Division initiated the forum, which has run every year since 2004. Its objective is to bring together public service leaders to dialogue, network and share best practices on contemporary issues in public sector management and service delivery.
The meeting in Gaborone opened with a keynote speech from Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe of Botswana and remarks by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.
This year’s forum is being held under the theme: ‘Improving the Political-Administrative Interface to Achieve Sustainable Development’.
In her opening remarks, Mrs Masire-Mwamba said that a strong and effective public service is crucial to facilitating achievement of national development goals.
“The theme of this year’s forum is important, particularly now as the world is awakening to Africa’s potential for economic prosperity. We need to demonstrate we are doing our part to realise this potential and are committed to moving our countries from poverty to prosperity,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary-General pointed out that development is not just a technical process - it is also a political process.
She said that for sustainable development to be achieved in Africa, politicians, public sector leaders and leaders from other sectors, have to work in collaboration for the common good.
“Many African countries have been experiencing challenges in reducing poverty, improving literacy rates, improving health care and achieving many other development priorities, not only because of limited resources, but sometimes because of inadequate collaboration between politicians and public servants in ensuring that national development priorities are achieved. In addition, for development to take place, public servants who are the technical experts have the responsibility to provide professional and honest advice to politicians with integrity,” she added.
The meeting has drawn participants from Botswana, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.