Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Corruption Claimed in Afghan Civil Service Appointments

When public servants are picked for their political connections, transparency and probity go out the window.
By IWPR staff

Afghan civil servants are often appointed through personal connections or outright bribery, according to participants in IWPR-run debates held in the Herat, Faryab and Bamyan provinces in December.

As a result, they said, it was little wonder that civil service officers had ties to political factions and particular ethnic groups, or that they used their positions to engage in corrupt practices.

Since 2002, civil service appointments in Afghanistan have been regulated by the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), a body mandated to create “a modern, responsive, democratic, gender sensitive, transparent and accountable public administration enabled to manage public resources efficiently and effectively for improved service delivery in fair and equitable manner”, according to its website.

A participant in the Herat debate, a schoolteacher from the Injil district who introduced herself as Ms Nabizada, said she had no faith in the appointments system, which is supposed to involve open and fair competition.

In response, the IARCSC’s provincial head, Abdul Salam Salam, acknowledged that true experts were not being appointed to key jobs, and that the system was marred by cases of corruption and of undue influence exercised by strongmen. He blamed the “unsuitable political atmosphere” that existed in Afghanistan.

A provincial councillor in Herat, Sayed Azim Kabarzani, said the roots of malpractice went all the way back to Kabul, as it was government officials there who set the tone.

During a debate held in the Yakawlang district of Bamyan province, a participant called Sayed Awaz Hasheminejad alleged that members of parliament had a lot of influence over who got appointed to government service. He said parliamentarians pressured senior government members to ensure that their favoured candidates got picked for positions.

In Faryab, civil society activist Shah Mohammad Najwa said he worked for the IARCSC for several years, and had observed corruption within that institution.

"The IARCSC has now turned into the ‘independent administrative corruption commission’,” he said.

Sebghatullah Sailab, a member of Faryab provincial council, said it was a shame that corrupt practices led to a situation where competence, education and commitment counted for nothing.

Abdul Jalil Awar, an advisor to Faryab’s provincial governor, agreed with the view that educational qualifications were not taken into account when appointments were being made.

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of IWPR’s Afghan Youth and Elections programme.