President Lazarus Chakwera Monday hinted that some civil servants are failing to adapt to change—in line with his government’s efforts to change the mindset—a move he said is letting Malawians down through the provision of undesirable services.
Speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when he presided over the signing ceremony of Public Service Reform Performance Contracts with 22 ministries, 35 Local Government councils, 10 constitutional bodies and 66 parastatal organisations, Chakwera said although Malawians have on a number of occasions voted for change of government via elections, the public service has remained largely unresponsive to the will of the people.
He said the entire State machinery was filled with individuals who were bent at continuing doing business as usual regardless of what the Malawian people vote to see happen in public offices.
“If Malawians vote for a president and vice president who promised public sector reform, it is unacceptable for Capital Hill civil servants to respond by carrying on doing things as before. If Malawians voted for a president and vice president who promised to end corruption, it is unacceptable for Capital Hill’s controlling officers to respond by digging their heels deeper into graft or letting it happen on their watch.
“If Malawians voted for a president and vice president who promised a government of servant-leaders, it is unacceptable for Capital Hill ministers, secretaries and directors to respond by continuing to lord it over those they serve. If Malawians voted for a president and vice president who promised to unite Malawians and galvanise them to work hard and smart, it is unacceptable for Capital Hill’s work ethic to be lethargic, lazy and partisan,” Chakwera said.
The Malawi leader said there was a clear disconnect between public members whose taxes resource the public sector and the public servants whose talents run it.
Chakwera added that the laissez-faire attitude in the civil service was deep-looted, such that anyone working to change it is seen as “munthu ovuta or munthu odzimva [rabble-rouser]”.
“This attitude is frankly counter-productive and sick. The truth is that our approach to public service delivery over the last 26 years has been inefficient and ineffective, driven by rent-seeking activities more than nation-building ones.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima who is also Minister of Public Sector Reforms, said, as the demand for greater accountability grows, the public sector reforms are moving from traditional implementation-based approaches towards result-based approaches.
“It is everyone’s hope that the implementation of reforms will lead to a results-oriented, high performing public service that facilitates positive transformation of the economy and the country’s modernisation. Integrity will be very key in the delivery of the reforms,” Chilima said.
Among other commitments, the government would, through the Ministry of Agriculture, facilitate the establishment of a fertiliser manufacturing plant. In addition, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is expected to implement its Turn-Around Strategy aimed at reclaiming its rightful role.
In energy, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi is expected to implement its turnaround strategy to improve its financial position.
On its part, the Ministry of Finance is expected to implement automation in the management of non-tax revenue.
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said his ministry was committed to delivering on its set targets.