Welcome Address by Mr K. Ponnusamy, Senior Chief Executive, Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms on the occasion of Africa Day for Civil Service and Administration and the UN Public Service Day
Hon Ahmad Jeewah, Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms
Mr Harry Ganoo, Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps
Trade Union Representatives
Fellow Public Officers
Ladies and Gentlemen
 
Today the 23rd June is the Africa Day of the Civil Service and Administration and the United Nations Public Service Day and on this happy occasion, I extend my best wishes to each and every person employed in and connected with the Public Service.
 
The Africa Day of the Civil Service and Administration was instituted by the first Pan African Conference of Ministers of Public Service held in Tangier, Morocco in June 1994. Mauritius has been celebrating the event for the third consecutive year with the aim of:-
 
(a) assisting citizens to get a broader understanding of the work of the Civil Service;
 
(b) publishing the charter of the African Public Service containing the code of conduct and fundamental values in the Public Service; and
 
(c) creating awareness of the orientation programme elaborated in the Stellenbosch Declaration adopted by the fourth Conference of Pan ?African Ministers of Public Service in Cape Town in May 2003.
 
For its part, the United Nations decided in 2002 to earmark 23rd June as the UN Public Service Day. After the adoption of the relevant Resolution by the UN General Assembly, Mr Guido Bertucci, Director of the United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs acclaimed the decision by stating that every democratic society needed to lay strong pillars for building and maintaining a Civil Service which would be able to support and implement approved programmes and policies in a fair manner.
 
The theme chosen for this year Africa Day for the Civil Service is "Public Service Capacity Building for the African Renaissance". This is in line with the firm commitment of African Leaders to translate NEPAD projects into reality. The African Public Services have therefore a crucial role to play in the implementation of the NEPAD Projects.
The message of the UN Secretary on the occasion of the UN Public Service Day will reach us later in the day, but we know that the UN has already decided that the theme of the United Nations Day on the 24 October 2004 will be "Women's Rights and Empowerment: The Millennium Development Goals and Gender Equality".
 
Both themes go in the same direction and Mauritius is fully supportive of actions being taken to build more capacity in our Public Service by way of empowerment and respect for Gender Equality to face the numerous socio-economic development challenges.
 
Governments all over the world dream of and aim at a Public Service, manned by the best qualified and most gifted Public Officers to be able to deliver the goods. A dip in history reminds us that this dream dates back to days before the birth of Jesus Christ. The New Illustrated Encyclopedia indicates that a "modern civil personnel are usually chosen by examination and promoted on the basis of merit ratings. In democratic nations, recruitment and advancement procedures are designed to divorce the civil service from political patronage. The use of competitive examinations to select civil officials was begun in China during the Han dynasty in 206 B.C. and expanded to important positions during the Sung dynasty. In the West, however, selection of civil administrators and staff on the basis of merit examinations is a late development. Despite important contributions to administrative structure and procedure, the Roman Empire seems to have recruited officials largely on the basis of customs and judgment of superiors". Perhaps this explains in part the decline of the Roman Empire.
 
In Mauritius, we have a young Public Service, almost completely staffed by Mauritian nationals since Independence in March 1968 after the departure of the British. The Public Service we see today has been shaped by dedicated sons and daughters of our country. However, the assistance and advice of friendly countries and international organisations have enabled us to achieve steady progress in the process of consolidating the foundations of our Public Service. We hail the distinguished presence of the representatives of some of these countries and organizations in our midst this morning and we thank them for their sustained support and encouragement to our Public Service.
 
Today is a day of reflection and rejoicing for us and all our brothers and sisters in the Public Service in all parts of the world. Let us therefore renew our full commitment and dedication to a strong, honest, effective and caring Public Service.
 
Thank you for your attention.