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Public appointments should be on merit

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President Peter Mutharika can sometimes be a funny character.

At one point, he wants his government to deliver comprehensively. On the other hand, he is stuffing the government key positions with blue hand-clappers, who have no knowledge whatsoever of public service delivery.

If the President opts for efficient public service delivery, then we should have people appointed on merit in the boards of statutory corporations. We should have career diplomats in our foreign missions instead of wives and children of the ruling party members.

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The President has unveiled names of people to sit in the boards of statutory corporations.

Most of the people appointed in the boards are as pathetic as the government itself.

They are the usual culprits: chiefs and religious leaders. I can even count names of traditional leaders sitting on the boards. I mean chiefs who are quick to insult Leader of Opposition on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and religious leaders who are quick to defend mediocrity on state-run MBC.

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I do not regard the so-called chiefs and religious leaders as leaders but opportunists. I have seen Mutharika has removed vocal civil society leaders from the boards and replaced them with pro-government activists.

No wonder, our parastatals are not performing.

If the President appoints a chief executive officer because he or she is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and appoints a board which is DPP too, do you expect such a statutory corporation to post profits, consequently give dividends to government? Not at all.

We have seen how DPP officials have fleeced Escom, how they have haemorraged the parastatal, which is now completely down; it is even failing to generate electricity when rains are above normal.

As you might have heard, the statutory corporations were supposed to give to government K11.6 billion in dividends but they have just managed a meagre K2.6 billion.

This is very pathetic indeed.

The Malawi missions abroad are the pathetic lot.

These missions should have been very productive. In this economic crisis, the missions abroad should have saved us a lot through marketing of tourism, luring foreign investors to Malawi and doing all the donkey work that foreign missions do but, alas, the staff are there to get free pay at the end of the month.

They are rewarded for their work in helping put the ruling party in power.

Malawi envoys, some of them, if not most of them, spend time doing education or engage in business at the expense of foreign mission job. Unless Mutharika learns to appoint people in public positions and civil service on merit, Malawi will continue to sink fast.

You do not expect wives, children or relatives of cabinet ministers and close allies of the President to do a wonderful job as compared to people appointed on merit.

For instance, Labour, Sports and Manpower Development Minister Henry Mussa has his wife Agrinna as High Commissioner in Zimbabwe while his daughter works in Malawi mission to Zambia.

I am told she is deputy high commissioner there.

Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati’s daughter Carol is political analyst at Malawi’s mission in London.

Information Minister Nicholas Dausi has his son Mwai as immigration officer at the Malawi mission in London.

Francis Mphepo, chief political adviser to the President, has his son in Malawi mission to India.

Presidential Adviser on Non-governmental Organisations Mabvuto Bamusi has his wife Gloria as Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa.

Ben Phiri, the powerful former aide to Mutharika, has his sister Mrs Funny Bwanali as First Secretary at Malawi’s embassy to Japan.

Bwanali is a primary school teacher by profession. The list is endless.

If I am to put all names here, The Daily Times would need a special supplement.

This is nepotism.

Some quarters may argue these people have not broken any law but this is nepotism.

There are young men and women out there, very talented and educated but their chances of working for Malawi have been thwarted, their dreams shattered because of nepotism.

This is why the government is sinking, stinking and has no sense of direction.

This is against the pillars of patriotism the President preaches. This is against the pillar of integrity we are told to embrace.

It is absolutely senseless to recall some of the envoys just to replace them with sons, daughters, sisters and wives of politically connected individuals.

I am not surprised that our leaders are reluctant to create the atmosphere for job creation.

This is so because the leaders have jobs for their relations in government.

Apart from this, nepotism creates and breeds inefficiencies, laziness and reduces working morale for other members of staff who went into the foreign missions on merit.

This is why I am suggesting all vacancies, be it in parastatal boards or foreign missions, be advertised and right people picked on merit.

That, if done, Malawi will be the country of milk and honey, not this sickening mapwevupwevu, the malafide!

Now, still on the same appointments, has the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) completed announcing names of people appointed in boards of statutory corporations?

A week ago, the OPC gave us names of those appointed in the boards of 19 parastatals and yesterday we were given names for three parastatals. This proves worries that this government is always very slow in doing things; as slow as a chameleon or tortoise.

Even the cabinet was unveiled in piecemeal. It will take another tortoise journey to appoint Agriculture minister.

This is one of the major weaknesses of this government, this DPP-led government.

They are very slow in fixing the tattered economy, very slow in fighting corruption, very slow in stopping abuse and theft of public resources, very slow in improving public services, more especially in critical areas of health and education, very slow in dealing with the closures of public universities, very slow in dealing with power blackouts, very slow in paying civil servants but very fast in increasing budgets for State House.

Just take a look at the so-called board of directors, the usual culprits; chiefs and religious leaders, most of them opportunists who change colours when governments change.

This slowness in dealing with issues of national importance can be described as incompetence!

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