Labor Minister Rejects Nepotism Tag -Says His Accuser Joekai Steps Beyond Bounds

MONROVIA: What some opposition elements have perceived to be sweeping “downsizing and rightsizing”, others call it “substitution by elimination”, by the United Party administration—the upsetting of both presidential and nonpresidential appointees for favorites—is taking a new face, and there are concerns and even quarrels popping up from within. Recently, the Civil Service Agency Director General was widely quoted as accusing the Minister of Labor of breaching CSA codes and acting nepotistic. But the allegations are not going down well with the Minister who thinks his accuser is out of order and beyond the bounds of his duty. The Analyst reports.

Minister of Labor, Cllr. Cooper W. Kruah, Sr., has returned fire for fire in what is emerging as war of words involving him and the Director General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) who had accused him of nepotism and breaching standing orders of the Liberian bureaucracy.

CSA boss Josiah Joekai was quoted days ago as saying that the Ministry of Labor engaged into the employment of middle-level officials at the Ministry of Labor not only putting his favorites but floating moratorium on employment freeze.

But Minister Kruah has retorted, stating that the CSA Director General has stepped beyond the bounds of his authority by such allegations as published in the media.

He said the allegation of nepotism was surprising to him as he had never sent any name to CSA for employment, questioning the CSA as to how the agency got the information for which it has been expressing concern.

The Labor Ministry boss further clarified that the Ministry recently transferred its Assistant Human Resources (HR) Director Nyama K. Dorko for discrepancies that were noticed in her department and therefore brought in another employee to act in her stead while the ministry was trying to identify someone for the position.

Cllr. Kruah asserted, however, that when his office requested Madam Dorko to turn over all documents regarding the job to the new Acting Assistant HR, she refused and then leaked to CSA Joekai the documents she should have been asked to turn over to the acting Assistant HR.

“Instead of Joekai approaching me as the Minister responsible for the ministry, he went to the press and surreptitiously leaked the document, apparently from which it was reported by the FrontPageAfrica that the Labor Minister is practicing nepotism,” Minister Kruah stated in his outburst.

“This is undermining the very government Joekai is working for; it is this same Joekai who placed a ban on 40,000 government supplementary employees’ payment; and when he was put under pressure, he decided to change his approach in addressing the issue of the so-called 40,000 supplementary employees,” Minister Kruah further said.

The Labor Minister exclaimed, perhaps in reference to his accuser: “Let this stop! Some of us fought for the election of this Unity Party Alliance Government.  We are not some people who sat in America and after the election of the government came with laptops under their arms to take jobs.”

Meanwhile, the Labor Minister, responding to a CSA letter of May 8, 2024, said the CSA boss questioned the running of the Ministry with specific reference to internal transfers carried out within the Ministry, which he said contravened the Civil Service Standing Orders, specifically he quoted chapter 3 & 4 of the Civil Service Standing Orders.

According to Chapter 3.4.9 sub-paragraph (b) of the Civil Service Standing Orders, Cllr. Kruah said that “Internal Transfers may be affected by the Administrative Authority but such transfers must not reduce the salary or status of Civil Servants, except in cases of disciplinary actions which must adhere to sections 4.2.4, and 4.2.8 of these regulations.”

“Contrary to your assertion, we the administrative authorities have the right to carry out interoffice transfer mentioned supra, once the intent is to enhance productivity of our Ministry as a revenue generating urgency,” Minister Kruah informed the CSA boss in the letter.

“More besides, the authority of a cabinet minister to run a Ministry is based upon presidential appointment and is vested in the Minister; this cannot be questioned by you (meaning CSA Director General) as though a Minister reports to your agency,” the Labor Minister said.

He continued: “Ministers appointed by the President report to the President and therefore report to the President.”

He reminded DG Joekai regarding the CSA’s threat not to have employment documents from the Labor Ministry honored: “We reserve further comments until the appropriate time since indeed we have not submitted any employment documents to your Agency.”

The Labor Minister said he has also gathered that Director General Joekai has influenced the acting Human Resource Manager to take some documents from the Ministry to his offices, which were delivered to the CSA boss, noting that he believes doing so is a serious breach.

The Labor Minister wrote further: “You may only act upon official communication from my office to you. Anything short of this constitutes a very serious interference in the operation of our Ministry.”

According to Minister Kruah the Labor Ministry has not submitted any employment documents of new employees to the CSA that should generate the concerns raised by the CSA boss.

“Until then, internal and other administrative decisions made by us, which have not been communicated to you officially, remain ours and not intended for the CSA. Your communication to us regarding these instruments step beyond your bound,” Mr. Kruah told DG Joekai.

The Labor Minister said he is always open to dialogue and the exchange of ideas to achieve the government’s ARREST Agenda.

“We are certainly committed to this,” he assured the CSA boss.

A local daily, FrontPageAfrica, quoting the CSA chief published that Cllr. Cooper Kruah ignored and violated the Civil Service Agency’s freeze on new hires and transfers, and has provided employment to over 93 personnel in positions that are already occupied.

The paper indicated that it has obtained a communication from the CSA dated April 5, 2024, which informed Minister Kruah that his decision to transfer and re-assign employees of his institution was in violation of Chapters 3 and 4 of the Civil Service Standing Orders of 2012 which state that all human resource movements must receive approval from the Director-General before implementation.

Minister Kruah’s actions are said to violate the freeze that the Civil Service Agency placed on employment, transfers, promotions, and demotions on February 16, 2024. Despite this, the Labor Minister has recalled all Labor Commissioners across the country and has hired new individuals to act as Acting Labor Commissioners, the paper reported further.

Cllr. Kruah, a renowned Liberian lawyer, is the National Chairman of the Senator Prince Y. Johnson led Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) from where Vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung became Vice President in the Unity Party Alliance government.  The MDR is one of the alliance parties that helped the Unity Party and Boakai deliver the vote-rich Nimba County to the winning team at the end of the 2023 Presidential election.

After the inauguration, Kruah was nominated as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, but was soon revoked from the job by President Boakai following public outcry, and was subsequently nominated to head the Ministry of Labor.

In its report, the FPA wrote, “Civil Service Agency calls Minister Cooper Kruah to book as he attempts filling about 93 positions already occupied,” but the Labor Minister rubbished the report, saying that he has not sent to the CSA any employment listing that should warrant such report violation purported in the FrontpageAfrica.  However, all efforts to contact DG Jokai proved futile up to press time.

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