Mass Dismissal Would Be ‘Unique’

first_imgA proposal by the Liberian Government through the Civil Service Agency (CSA) to dismiss or reduce by approximately 44,000 civil servants without “unique benefits and timing” has been dismissed by a member of the Public Servants Reform Sector Committee.The reason might have stemmed from the widely publicized dismissal of civil servants amidst the ongoing Ebola health crisis.The Director General of the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA), Oblayon Blayon Nyemah, clarified that the terms “dismissals or redundancies” of civil servants should rather be “rightsizing,”—meaning rightsizing the right people at the right time.He made the assertions yesterday during the kickoff of the training of 24 newly recruited Directors at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), during the start of the strategic leadership and management initiative in the public sector.Mr. Nyemah said LIPA, Civil Service Agency (CSA), and the Governance Reform (GR) are brainstorming to expeditiously “rightsize” civil servants to keep them from being detrimental to the society.But he failed to state when the government would implement the “unique rightsizing” of civil servants. “It’s important to reform the public sector, but there should be a unique approach in which all the parties involved are satisfied, and that is what we are working on,” the LIPA boss said.Some political pundits believe that the change of terminology from downsizing to rightsizing is due to the fact that downsizing is a reactive process, meaning it is a depressing, destructive process.“Being put in the position of having to lay people off is not pleasant for any manager. When you are coping with downsizing, it can appear that your time and effort is nonproductive. Downsizing can be disruptive to ongoing operations because people need to spend time undoing and redoing things that used to work,” Mr. Daniel Gray of Stephen Tolbert Estate said.While other pundits believe that although the phrase “rightsizing” has been used in some organizations as a euphemism for “downsizing” to make it seem more pleasant than it is, they are not the same thing.“Rightsizing is proactive and needs to be a constant part of the process of managing an organization,” Elijah Konah of Freeport argued.However, the National Legislature recently rejected the proposal for the “rightsizing” of civil servants in the midst of the Ebola crisis.  But the Executive Branch, through CSA Director General George Werner, earlier clarified that the laying off of thousands of government workers with the aim of maintaining an “efficient, effective and small size public service” is just a proposal.Mr. Werner said the proposed workforce reduction “was presented to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Cabinet, but was not endorsed or approved.”“We need a civil service that is professional and operates within a rational pay system. What this will do is improve wages because there are many government employees that are not providing the services they are being paid for,” Werner said.Established in 1969, LIPA is the government’s center for capacity building of civil servants and the institutions at which they work.Speaking to the newly recruited directors at the MFPD, the LIPA boss said they should be proud of the continuous capacity building and should act accordingly as principal Directors, the highest-ranking civil servants.On behalf the directors, the Aspiring Director for Communication, Zoegar Jaynes, said the newly recruited directors are all employees of the former Ministry of Finance but were recently recruited through a competitive vetting process to improve the newly established MFDP.He said the training was in compliance with their responsibility to be aware of the public sector as it relates to the Code of Conduct, the Public Financial Management Law and Regulations, Public Procurement Law and Management and Effective Organizational Communication and Time Management as well as Introduction to Public Sector Reforms, Civil Service Standing Order and Public Administration, amongst others.The Directors have been classified into four groups: Departments of Fiscal Affairs, Administration, Economic Management and Budget & Planning.The Department of Fiscal Affairs has nine distinct operational offices to include, Directors of Non-Tax Revenue, Indirect Taxation, Modeling &Forecast, Direct Taxes, Fiscal Decentralization, Financial Approval, Treasury Services, Financial Regulations and Accounting Services. The Department of Budget & Development Planning has the second largest operational squad, namely the Directors of Budget Policy & Coordination, Social and Community Services, Economic Services, Public Administration Services, Regional & Sectoral Services, Public Investment, Monitoring & Evaluation and Planning, Development & Coordination.Others include the Directors of Administration, Human Resource, Budget and Finance Integrity, which are under the Department of Administration; while the Directors of Aid Management, Economic Policy and Microeconomics and Financial Policy are part of the Department of Economic Management.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Dino-Feather Story Gets Fluffier

first_imgXing Xu is at it again, claiming that dinosaur feathers are found everywhere – in China, at least, where the bulk of “feathered dinosaur” claims keep turning up in farmyards.  The latest claim is that “Feather structures in maturing dinosaurs changed as they grew.”  This story is accompanied by artwork showing the critters looking as big and fierce as dinosaur monsters (see PhysOrg and National Geographic); in reality, though, they would have been as small as pigeons.    Xu’s paper in Nature concerns two specimens of Similicaudipteryx, which is, obviously, similar to Caudipteryx.  Yet Caudipteryx has long been considered by some as not a dinosaur but a member of the class Aves (birds) that became secondarily flightless (see 12/27/2000, 01/25/2008, 01/21/2009).  Since none of the critics of dinosaur-to-bird evolution were allowed to rebut the claims of the paper in Nature, it is hard to have confidence this fossil has anything to say about a transition from dinosaurs to birds.    Xu claims that the plumage patterns seen in these few fossils “suggests that early feathers were developmentally more diverse than modern ones” and have no counterparts in modern birds.  This is assuming that his team has correctly identified the fossils of extinct animals as members of the same species and can know their ages within acceptable margins of error without having living examples to observe.  Even if that is true, the results do not provide any simple story for the evolution of feathers.  Instead, it appears that modern birds’ moulting habits are simpler now than they were in the past.1.  Xing Xu, Xiaoting Zheng, Hailu You, Exceptional dinosaur fossils show ontogenetic development of early feathers,” Nature 464, 1338-1341 (29 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08965.The supplemental materials in Xu’s paper include a phylogenetic tree showing all the dinosaur groups that supposedly have feathers, and the feather types that have been found.  At first glance it looks impressive, but a closer look raises questions.  He has tyrannosaurids mixed in with the oviraptors and velociraptors and all these other animals.  The cladogram supposedly shows ancestral relationships, with feather types at the tips of each group.  You look at the feather types, though, and the clear bird feathers (pennate feathers with quills and barbs and barbules, and asymmetric flight feathers) have question marks by half the groups.  You read the caption and find his disclaimer that the evidence is questionable for these.  The ones that have the bird-like feathers could be said to be extinct bird lineages or secondarily flightless birds. circular reasoning.    Xu tries to answer the argument that some of the feather-like structures might have been flayed collagen, but we need to see the counter-arguments from Feduccia and the guys at University of Oregon (02/09/2010).  Nature, Science and National Geographic are giving way too much press to one side, to the Mr. Feathered Dinosaur guy Xing Xu.  This is not good science.  The whole story is not being heard.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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South Africa’s growing political maturity

first_imgJustice MalalaOne of the great myths of the new South Africa is the belief that, with time, we will go the route of “all Africa”.This route, the myth goes, is the descent into dictatorship, the free-fall into hunger and poverty and the collapse of institutions such as an independent and vigorous judiciary, free press and civil society.“Surely even you have to admit,” I am often confronted by people, “that what is happening to us is pretty much what happened in Nigeria, Kenya, and so forth.”The volume about the impending implosion of South Africa has increased phenomenally since December 2007 when Jacob Zuma defeated Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane for the presidency of the African National Congress (ANC). With the arrival of Zuma and the new corps of ANC leaders, the myth has now taken on a bit of an all-encompassing truth. It is the easy answer to a far more complex question about where South Africa is headed.But let us look at these myths and test their veracity.In January, for example, Kenya became the great example of where South Africa might be headed. Kenya had held national elections in December and these had been blatantly stolen by the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki.The people of Kenya, rightly, felt violated. They took to the streets in protest and the State – in typical dictatorial fashion – lashed back with violence. By the end of January some 1500 people had died, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands had been misplaced.Could South Africa go the same way as Kenya? The truth is that the people of Kenya have never known true democracy until last Christmas. Jomo Kenyatta, the first post-colonial president, was in power from 1963 to 1978. Such a long period in leadership breeds a certain culture: that people are to leadership born and the populace has no choices.Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel Arap Moi, stayed in power for 24 years! By the end of his tenure (he was pushed out screaming and shouting) the people of Kenya surely must have lost all sense of democratic instinct.Let’s look at another country. Zimbabwe to the north of us gained its independence in 1980. It has had only one president, Robert Mugabe, since then. It is my humble opinion that any country that is ruled with an iron fist by one individual for 28 years is likely to find itself facing the challenges Zimbabwe now faces.So then let us contrast this history with South Africa since 1994. Nelson Mandela came to power in April 1994 and stayed for a single five-year term. This is something unheard of on the continent: most liberators stayed on for longer and many had to be deposed. Surely Mandela’s decision is an example for the whole world?After Mandela, in 1999, came Thabo Mbeki. At the end of September 2008, with about nine months of his second term left, the African National Congress recalled Mbeki and replaced him with its deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.Now think about. In just less than fifteen years South Africa is into its third president! The recall of Mbeki was done without fuss, rancour or bloodshed. It was as smooth as when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was recalled by his Labour Party and the reins handed over to the country’s current PM Gordon Brown.“The process shows the maturity of our democratic developmental state. We are an example to the rest of the continent and particularly the subcontinent, that a peaceful transition of power is possible.“People must not panic. There will be no chaos, political maturity will prevail,” said Khotso Khumalo, the ANC’s parliamentary spokesman, when Mbeki was recalled.The Financial Times, a newspaper regarded as the Bible of capitalism the world over, said after Mbeki’s recall that the ANC “should be commended for showing signs of democratic health – a rare sentiment in a former African liberation movement”.It is worth noting that the ANC is putting Zuma forward as its presidential candidate for the 2009 general elections. If the party wins these elections, then South Africa will be into its fourth president in just fifteen years. If another party – say the opposition Democratic Alliance – wins those elections instead, the same will be true.So, compared to many states all over the world, our turnover of heads of state is actually very healthy indeed. And we know what a change in head of state means: new energy in government, new Cabinet ministers keen to prove their abilities and the entrenchment of a philosophy that no person is born to perpetual leadership.It is very easy to fall back on stereotypes of where an African country such as ours is going. But the truth is far more complex and challenging to all our stereotypes. Sure, we have our challenges.But a stereotypical African basket case we are not. Indeed, democracy is entrenching itself in our beloved country. And that is good for all of us.Justice Malala is an award-winning former newspaper editor, and is now general manager of Avusa’s stable of 56 magazines. He writes weekly columns for The Times newspaper and Financial Mail magazine, as well as a monthly media and politics column for Empire magazine. He is the resident political analyst for independent television channel e.tv and has consulted extensively for financial institutions on South African political risk. Malala was also an executive producer on Hard Copy I and II, a ground-breaking television series on SABC 3. Hard Copy I won the Golden Horn Award for best television series. Malala’s work has been published internationally in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, Forbes, Institutional Investor, The Age and The Observer.last_img read more

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I-T dept officials raid house, offices of Gupta brothers

first_imgIncome Tax officials raided the offices in Saharanpur and Dehradun belonging to the South Africa-based industrialists Gupta brothers. Searches were also conducted at the Guptas’ ancestral house in Ranibazar where the brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, grew up and lived till they left the country to become industrial tycoons in South Africa and close allies of the country’s former President Jacob Zuma. Mr. Zuma’s reported dealings with the brothers had rocked South African politics, leading to his resignation as President in mid-February. The Gupta brothers, however, have consistently denied any wrongdoing. “There was suspicion that the brothers were trying to bring illegal money into the country through various means. We intend to investigate if there is some basis for the suspicion,” said a senior IT department official involved with the raid. “Raids were conducted at the old Ranibazar house in Saharanpur, as well as their houses in Dehradun. We are also looking for bank accounts associated with them and properties they own,” the official said.Premise of a temple where the Gupta brothers were in the process of building a grand structure worth several crores were also raided, said the official.last_img read more

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