Vice-President Saulos Chilima has dared civil society organisations and public sector leaders to embrace tough decisions to achieve accountability and good governance in the country.
The Vice-President made the remarks at the Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe yesterday when he officially opened a two-day conference for CSOs organised by Tilitonse Fund under the theme Inclusive, Accountable and Responsive Governance: A Key to Development.
Chilima, who successfully led the public service reforms drive that has improved service delivery in some sections of the public sector, said time has come for CSOs and government to shift away from ideology hypocrisy where people advocate for one thing and act differently when interventions are made.
He urged a mindset change, particularly in the public service, saying the country needs to change. But the Vice-President said to achieve that change, some decisions made should really hurt and people should agree that change hurts and only by that, total change can be seen.
Said Chilima: “As a country, let us agree that change hurts, but it is the only way out to meaningful development. Change means that there are winners and losers. What must engage us as a country is: What are the net gains for the country if we implement change?
“Change means asking tough questions and getting not-so-pleasant answers. Do we need so many principal secretaries in the public service? Do we need so many drivers?
“Can some public officers explain how they amassed so much wealth against their known legitimate [source of] income? Should Malawi Housing Corporation be stopped from raising the rentals of its property?”
He challenged participants to reflect on governance issues during the course of the conference and do a self-assessment of what role they have played as civil society in as far as advocacy is concerned.
Said Chilima: “As a civil society, are you supposed to join the protests or again help in communicating to the masses that this is important if we are to improve equality in education, especially when we look at the resource envelope in the wake of population boom?”
The Vice-President commended the partners implementing the project, saying it will help resolve issues quickly and improve transparency and accountability.
In her remarks, head of Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) in Malawi, Jen Marshall, expressed satisfaction with the way funds for the programme have been used.
She said the project has given power to the people who are demanding for their rights; hence, bringing issues of accountability and transparency to the fore.
Said Marshall: “For instance, people in Blantyre took to task the Blantyre Water Board over water issues and the board responded by giving them better services. The programme is letting the poor and the marginalised to voice out their concerns and service delivery is improving.”
The creation of Tilitonse Fund was motivated by the deteriorating governance context of Malawi between 2009 and 2011.
Tilitonse is a 19 million pound (DfID, Irish Aid and Royal Norwegian Embassy) pooled grant making the facility supporting a more accountable, responsive and inclusive governance in Malawi through engagement of local citizens to realise their rights, capacity development and improvement of access to information rights. n