Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Violence against civil servants: Phenomenon that has become recurrent in administrations

05.01.2020
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Mediators, teachers, hospital doctors, administrators, receptionists, and many others, are frequently confronted with physical and / or moral violence on a daily basis. Despite the most massive forms of violence in public services, concern for the safety of public servants should remain a permanent concern.

In Africa, sometimes a long queue, an overpayment persistently demands, a refusal signified in a rather brutal manner is enough for the situation to degenerate in our banks, educational establishments, hospitals and many other services. This nature usually comes from a patient or client. However, Africans are aware of the fact that, to obtain a job, it is necessary to overcome the obstacles of the university course but also the long period of galley called “after school”.

But during their rough professional journey, they did not imagine integrating beyond the risks linked to their terrifying jobs, which could put their lives in danger and In addition, in their place of service especially when they see their burning dream of youth become a reality. Yet Doctor Cécile Koumou, a doctor on duty in a district hospital in Cameroon, will remember forever, that night of November 3, 2019, when he was molested by four mad nurses.

All her life, Lissette Alem, a teacher at the public garage military school, will keep in her mind the date of September 9, 2019. This famous day when a rabid soldier violently beat her up to coma to avenge his son who ‘she would have punished the day before. From north to south, through east and West Africa, a week cannot end without attacking the education and health sectors. In addition, teachers have become the main targets of the mood swings of students or their parents.

Some justify this extraordinary increase by a long-distance relationship between the agent and the public who are frustrated by the attention of standard responses to the detriment of the individual responses requested. On the other hand, certain parents and pupils, instilled with their social status, believe that the internal rules of education today do not allow the learner to flourish in the space and time framework. Thus considered as developed beings with their parents, once reproached at school, the parents raise their professional clothing, which according to them, gives them the power to attack the dignity of a public official.

Others opt to have knives for their self-defense within the establishment. Several cases have also been counted in private and public schools in Cameroon. Here, the accusing finger is pointed at the principals who have lowered their guard over the safety of the educational body. The teaching staff has become a true Stations of the Cross. Civil servants in crisis areas are the most afflicted. Since 2016, and rather, the persistence of abuses in the Sahel plus in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon are tangible evidence. There was not a day without murder of the men in uniform, the bishops who wiped bullets in full exercise. The most recent case was that of the prison guard, coldly beheaded in northwest Cameroon.

However, the profile of users taking on public officials is diverse. We now find among the authors, individuals who are socially well integrated. A negative response from an administration, or a refusal to comply with the working conditions proposed by the supervisor in the form of blackmail, can lead to violent acts. And one in seven assaults suffers. Such actions which honor not only the countries concerned but the African continent, the cradle of humanity. In short it goes in all directions within the Public Service. No way to exercise your dream so cherished in serenity. Only fear, anxiety and mistrust reign.

But if the threat is limited only to disadvantaged populations, it remains in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods that it remains frequent. Sociologist Sebastian Roché clearly explains that “the civil servants targeted are above all considered” strangers “to the neighborhood. As a result, if they do not have a recognized social status, some young people identify as natives. “So picking on a state agent crossing, is a way for them to pick on the state. However, the presence of public employees in such places should be a benefit for the populations in order to “fight against territorial relegation”, added Sebastian Roché

The officials and politics

In Mali, in Art 17 of Law No. 02-053 of December 16, 2002 on the general status of civil servants, and in Cameroon in Decree No. 2000/359 of December 05, 2000 on the special status of civil servants in the corps ‘National Education in Art. 65, every civil servant is free from his political, philosophical and religious opinions. But the body of National Education is required to refrain from any political demonstration or meeting within the confines of a school. Article 8 of this Cameroonian law clearly exposes it.

However, in view of the precarious situation of civil servants, if the administration is intended to manage public affairs, to serve the general or common interest, it seems logical that individuals seek to instrumentalize or personalize it to serve their interests. The politicization of the African administration is an obvious reality. Trust between political power and the administration seems essential to the smooth running of the government. The increased demand for efficiency in public services raises in particular the question of the compatibility between the achievement of political objectives and the concern for good management. Between technical competence and political loyalty lies the question of politicization. This is why in Africa, a civil servant is only one who adopts the political beliefs of the state devices, which is what slows the smooth running of a state and in turn leads to mood swings in society. .

State responsibility

In Zimbabwe, Article 23 of Law No. 93-09 of January 18, 1993, in Djibouti art. 11 of Law No. 48 / AN / 83 / 1st L of June 26, 1983 and in Cameroon according to Law No. 98/004 of April 14, 1998 of education guidance, article 37 paragraph, 2, the State is obliged to protect the official against threats, violence, factual vote, insults, defamation or contempt which they could be victim during the exercise of their functions and to repair, if necessary, the damage which is resulted.

In the same logic, “the health and safety conditions at the workplace are defined by decree of the Ministry of Labor, taken after opinion of the National Commission of health and safety at work” What explained the domination of Cameroonian Minister of Public Health Manaouda Malachie who in a tweet declared that any aggressive behavior towards his staff could follow up on legal proceedings against perpetrators of violence. The Doctors’ Union has also offered legal assistance for those who plan to file complaints against their attackers. Let’s face it! Attacks on public officials rarely lead to criminal convictions because little is known about public officials, policymakers, opinion leaders and many others about the assault on public servants. Often, justice officials are content with a simple call to order, a decision later approved by the judge. And according to the document Violence and health report, “this low visibility is due in large parts to the classified functioning of public service organizations to the insufficient reflex of investigations by the guardianship. Likewise, the “short-term” concerns of many elected officials and decision-makers who have not sufficiently perceived and analyzed the signs as well as the consequences of the escalation of violence.

Cameroon and Zimbabwe are not isolated cases. In recent decades, public service agents have suffered blows of general indifference. Yet according to Violence and Health Report, published in 2002 by the World Health Organization, WHO affirmed that violence must be considered as a public health issue by studying what role we have to play to prevent the phenomenon of violence and its health impact. And if we take into account the consequences of exposure to violence, the situation becomes qualitatively worrying. Employers have an obligation to assess and prevent risks. It is perhaps in this wake that educators as well as civil society in general, who are calling for the integration of military training in all public service competitions.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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