The mass firing of all cabinet ministers with the exception of the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs by the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took the entire country by surprise and especially her dismissed ministers who did not see it coming. As the dust begin to settle down and the nation recovers from the shock and awe of the President’s decision which is unprecedented, The New Dispensation sought to scan the public discourse to get feedback on the President’s decision to fire and send all her ministers on compulsory Administrative Leave.
Public reaction survey from the Liberian homeland to the diaspora community around the world expressed one common reason, and that is, they are surprise and did not believe the story when it first broke, with many saying “if it were April first, we would say it was April fool”. Bulk of our survey revealed there are mixed public reaction, one school of thought welcomes the firing on grounds the fired ministers have been humiliated and shamed taking the nation for granted draining the public coffers at will while the rest of the country suffers. On the other hand, some see the mass dismissal as an embarrassment to the Liberian nation, something every Liberian is forced to live with and a public repudiation of the current administration inability to control and rein in public officials unsatisfying quest to use the public trust as their private business which resources they can use at will.
Supporters of the President agreed with her decision and find no fuss with it, emphasizing” this will be a handwriting on the wall for the next group of ministers she will appoint, that the President won’t hesitate to embarrass them if they choose the route of their predecessors”.
Members of the opposition for their part believe, the President’s action is political theatrics, meant to deceive the electorates perceiving her as being serious about curbing the chronic corruption illness her government engaged in for the past four years since the Unity Party came to power and determined to do anything that will give the perception she is ready to fight corruption when she sat silently and refused to take action against corrupt officials even if they were recommended for prosecution by the General Auditing Commission. The opposition question President Sirleaf reason given for the mass dismissal of her entire cabinet that it “will allow her to assess their performance”. The opposition said they need further explanation of the President’s action because as they put it “you can not assess the performance of a worker when he or she has already been dismissed from the job. For a worker performance to be assessed, that worker must be employed and be discharging his functions, it is upon his day-to-day job performance which the assessment can be done”. Others are also taken aback on the logic that for four years the President had not had in place an assessment plan or job evaluation to assess the performance of her ministers and officials, an imperative catalyst in private and public management.
“Her action has weakened her administration and unravelled the label long been in the public discourse, that she is tired and too old to rule”, a Liberian interviewed, said.
Other Liberians see the President’s action as one of selfishness and “don’t care attitude”, not considering the harm her action could cause others but focused on redeeming her reputation in desperation of re-election next year.
In wake of all the public reaction, the Liberian people are waiting to see the President’s next move, whether the next bash of ministers and officials she will bring in this time around will transform the four- year corrupt image of the government at the eve of 2011 elections, an oberver noted.
The Liberian leader has left the country for the United States to meet with officials of the American government, address a forum in Virginia, and will received “Woman of the Year Award” from Glamour Magazine. Prewsident Sirleaf will also mert with Liberians in Staten Iskland next Tuesday and make a stop over in Ghana on her way back home where she will address a forum on women development, and finally returning to Liberia on November 14th.