The Congolese administration is often depicted as a basket case of corruption and malpractice. However, not much has been written from an empirical perspective on the underlying practices of bureaucratic governance at the central level. This paper aims to fill this gap by focusing on the management of human resources and the public wage system.
It provides an in-depth account of how the expenditure chain functions with wage payment. It considers the political and financial stakes around the wage bill, particularly: political patronage through recruitment; clientelist arrangements within payroll management; and ghost workers, leakages and remunerations embezzlement.
The problems that beset human resource and payroll management arise out of an incongruity between official rules and regulations, and the underlying political, social and economic realities that underpin governance in the public sector. In the DRC, the public sector occupies a peculiar position: it is the main provider of formal employment; a livelihood source for its agents; a major locale structuring political mobilisation; and the prime driver of accumulation in a setting where the formal economy remains embryonic As such, the practices of patronage, clientelism and large-scale payroll fraud should be understood as the means by which the gap between official legislation and the pressures surrounding the public sector are reconciled. This paper illustrates this by explaining how:
Patronage-based recruitment in the civil service helps to build and service political constituencies, particularly in electoral periods.
Clientelist arrangements are widely prevalent within payroll management, especially to negotiate payroll inclusion.
The flaws of the institutional set-up underpinning payroll management invite larger abuses, including large-scale payroll fraud.