context: That cadres are increasingly challenged by new social problems and organisational demands is well-documented and widely debated. Now, a questionnaire in one city has exposed just how forgotten and forlorn some feel, and indicates that the major problem facing cadres might not be so much a tendency towards corruption as a paucity of inspiration.

Surveying 3,400 cadres in Zhuzhou city, Hunan Province revealed that some Party officials lack political spirit and are often reluctant to take the initiative in solving problems.

The reasons, according to the report, are

  • ideals and beliefs of cadres are not firmly grounded and outside stimulus is insufficient
  • power and responsibilities are often vague, and various boundaries–between public and private, collective decision-making and unilateral authority–are unclear, and thus cadres fear errors and blame for making them
  • opportunities for cadres and front-line personnel to train and grow are scarce, and current methods do not focus on learning from others’ practices, nor team-building
  • some leading cadres do not know enough about their subordinates, and are unconcerned with their thinking and emotions, which affects staff enthusiasm for work

The solutions to these problems must be comprehensive, writes Mao Tengfei 毛腾飞 Zhuzhou Municipal Party Committee Secretary, and include

  • improving the mechanism for selecting and appointing personnel
  • deepening reform of performance evaluation, and using assessments for evaluating and promoting cadres, and holding them accountable
  • formulating a complete list of powers and responsibilities, including forbidden behaviour, so that a mechanism for supervision and accountability will be built and enable cadres to put aside worries, and ‘go to battle lightly and do things boldly’
  • putting cadres on the front line of project construction, poverty alleviation, supervision and inspection, letters and visits, to compel them to improve their abilities
  • refining the incentive system, to help cadres relieve pressure, resolve doubts, and find encouragement, so that they can work and rest well