Kandahar's past rulers served only the powerful, claims Azizi
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Kandahar Governor Dr. Humayun Azizi on Tuesday said the previous administrations had been in the service of powerful individuals instead of the masses during the past 13 years, but efforts were underway to improve governance.
Azizi told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview that he had started evaluating government departments soon after his appointment as governor of southern Kandahar province because the departments had been in extremely bad condition. His evaluation revealed the provincial administration lacked capacity, serving only powerful individuals.
He said there had been no proper coordination among provincial departments which performed most of their activities against the established rules. “After assuming office, I told officials of different departments in clear words that I value work which is done only in line with the law.”
The governor acknowledged the provincial government in the past had been under influence of powerful individuals but said such interferences had been blocked over the past three months.
“We do not allow anyone to interfere in our administrative principles and affairs. We believe in the supremacy of the law, the system and policy. From me as a governor to an ordinary official, all are only answerable to the law and the rules, not to anyone else.”
These administrative ethics, the governor said, he was trying to promote. He said he had appointed a commission headed by his deputy to promote the administrative culture. He said the panel had been tasked with evaluating departments and implementing reforms.
The governor said the reforms were aimed at enabling the provincial departments to serve the people, discourage absenteeism and promote good behavior. He said officials who did not properly discharge their responsibilities or commit negligence would be terminated.
When asked why change could not be felt in Kandahar despite President Ashraf Ghani’s pledge to bring drastic reforms to the province, the governor said drastic reforms did not mean a sudden change. He said the provincial administration was in a state of reformation which needed time and should be carefully and gradually enforced.
The governor said besides his administration, the ministries concerned also evaluated the provincial departments and implemented necessary reforms. “I advocate care in this regard, we should not be in a hurry. So far we have introduced reforms in four departments --- customs, communication, information and culture and irrigation. New officials have been appointed in these departments and the process is ongoing.”
About administrative corruption, Azizi said his administration had launched a strong campaign against the menace and he had fired some officials, including a director, for committing corruption. The governor said corruption was a huge problem and one of the reasons behind it was the conflict that killed human conscience and feelings toward the country and duty.
He said corruption undoubtedly existed in Kandahar departments but serious efforts were being made to counter it. Unfortunately no civil observation existed in Kandahar and that was why the government, insurgents and powerful individuals had been harassing the masses and had silenced their voices against corrupt practices, Azizi lamented.
The basic job, the governor said, was to improve relations between the government and the people in order to strengthen their oversight role. He linked good governance in districts to availability of funds and competent officials.
The governor said only 0.7 percent national budget had been set aside for governance throughout the country while competent officials refused to work in districts.
“You should think how we can ensure good governance in districts with the meager budget and the shortage of capable officials,” he asked, but said President Ashraf Ghani was aware of this and the budget shortage problem would be resolved next financial year.
The governor also admitted problems and corruption in the education sector which he said was in a bad situation. He said schools lacked the required standards and a hefty amount of money in the name of education in districts ended up in private pockets.
He said they had constituted an advisory board to improve the education process. The board’s members included university teachers and local experts who had been tasked with investigating and resolving problems. About measures to combat drug smuggling, cultivation and consumption, the governor said that narcotics were one of the major factors prolonging the conflict.
He said the insurgents had been trying to keep under their control areas where poppy was cultivated and smuggling routes. He said drugs were a social problem and solution to it lied in social consensus to combat both smuggling and consumption. Insecurity, poverty and weak government departments lead to cultivation of poppy and drug smuggling.
About economic development, Azizi said an economic council had been created and tasked with investigating problems in businesses, exports and other economic activities and recommending solution to them. He said the problems would be shared with the central government in order agriculture, industry and business sectors could prosper in Kandahar.
The governor said he had encouraged businessmen for investment in the power sector to resolve the electricity shortage issue which the government alone could not resolve. He said three businessmen were ready to invest in production of 10 megawatts of electricity in the province.
Besides the installation of a third turbine at the Kajaki hydropower plant, the governor said work on a 20 megawatts solar power plant had been launched. Similarly, they planned to extend electricity to Kandahar from Kabul and Heart provinces, a project that would take three to five years to complete, Azizi added.
About the security situation in Kandahar, the governor said it was comparatively good, but the presence of militants was still felt in Kandahar City and districts. Security and detective forces worked day and night to prevent militant activities and enable the people to lead their lives in a peaceful environment, he said.
Azizi linked equipping Afghan forces with commitment of the international community and said many problems in this regard had been addressed except the procurement issue, which he said the president had initiated measures to resolve.
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