The Impact of the Public Service Reform Programme on Human Resource Development

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Zambia like most newly independent countries embarked upon a lot of programmes aimed at national building directed at state dominated economic development. The role of the state in Zambia like most independent developing countries was seen as that of corrective interventions in markets and emphasizing centralized planning. This new assumed role saw the rise of the Public Sector over the years. Furthermore, at independence, the government responded to popular and increasing demand for social services and material benefits by creating new institutions and new programmes. The development compounded already existing problems in managing rapidly growing bureaucratic empires, the steady erosion of inherited values and norms, accelerated the pace of institutional decay which in turn undermined the effectiveness of the Public Services (Cabinet Office, 1993).

With an increase in the Size of the Public Service came a corresponding increase in the levels of government expenditure which increased each year as a proportion of Gross Domestic product (GDP). This increase in expenditure far outstripped revenue, making the cost of Government unsustainable. The drastic increase of oil prices in the 1970s also had a telling effect on Zambia’s revenues. This was compounded by economic recession in the early 1980s which for Zambia meant a continuing decline in the price of copper which accounted for 90% of its export earnings, almost completely eroding its economic stability (Cabinet Office, 1993). Unfortunately, however, the over-expensive machinery of government was under performing. The poor performance of the Public Sector was eroding the confidence in the ability of government and state owned enterprises to provide the necessary goods and services. The financial performance of government services and enterprises was economically inefficient just as the operational performance was functionally ineffective. From the early 1970s, Zambia has experienced an outcry against, and criticism of the performance of the Public Sector with most of it being directed at the low productivity and weaknesses of the Civil Service, and its failure to deliver (Cabinet Office, 1993). The adoption of the structural adjustment policies further put pressure of the government to reduce its size and expenditure. As a consequence, the government has repeatedly and consistently expressed its desire to reduce the size and improve the financial and operational performance of the Public Service. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the emergency of the New Public Management (NPM) viewed as an alternative to the traditional Public Administration Model, which was seen as inadequate (Huges, 1998). The NPM advanced reforms, which were considered as a solution to the Problems of inefficiency, and ineffectiveness that were dodging Public Services. No single definition of NPM exists, Hogget (1994 in Common 1997) describes it more broadly as a collection of more flexible strategies in terms of Human Resource Management and Development and service delivery terms. A key distinguishing feature of NPM is its emphasis on market based mechanisms to deliver Public Services aimed at fostering a performance oriented culture. The adoption of NPM strategy in Zambia can also be attributed to the need to improve the quality and delivery of Public Services (Cabinet Office, 1993).

In 1993, the Government of Zambia officially launched the Public Service reform Programme (Refined NPM) whose goal was to improve the quality, delivery, efficiency and cost effectiveness of the people of Zambia. The PSRP was a direct effort by the government to rectify the reputation it had gained for providing poor goods, services and attitudes. The PSRP has three components, namely;

• Restructuring of the Public...
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