We can reform public sector

The revelation that the public sector reforms initiative has lost direction since it moved from the direct supervision of Vice-President Saulos Chilima to the Office of the President and Cabinet is a sad development.

The transfer of this initiative from Chilima’s office, of course, raised eyebrows considering the good work he started. It is sad that since then, there has been no monitoring on the progress of the initiative which, if achieved, would have changed the face of Malawi.

It is very important for each one of us to understand what public sector reforms are so that, together, we successfully achieve them. According to University of Malawi’s political analysts Richard Tambulasi and Happy Kayuni (1997), public sector reforms are planned systematic changes to the structure, processes and operation of the public sector which are sanctioned as the means to bring about the desired changes.

In any country, especially developing, public sector reforms are necessary. They are done to overhaul government’s administrative system to better serve the needs of both government and citizenry with improved delivery of public services to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.

To be successful, from the onset of the reform programme, it is crucial to establish and strengthen a working relationship between civil society actors and the Public Sector Reforms Commission on public reforms so that the citizenry benefit from the said reforms.

It is sad that this initiative is miserably failing to tick because of political interference through predatory leadership. Authorities, in all fairness, have to show respect where necessary and leave the best implementers continue the good work.

In his article published in 2015 titled ‘Researching the politics of public sector reforms in Malawi’, governance expert Henry Chingaipe hinted that there is a significant level of scepticism, especially on whether the reforms commissioned after the 2014 Tripartite Elections will actually be implemented.

This is the case because previous attempts have seen such initiatives being poorly implemented while others were abandoned in mid-gear.

Sometimes, we fail to make bold decisions, hence we fail to develop. The question, however, remains, why always us? It is through such reforms that countries like Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, who were almost in the same nest with Malawi 50 years ago, managed to move out of that dark nest.

Because we fail to make sound decisions as a nation, the majority of the population will continue living in poverty while our elected representatives become overnight millionaires.

We need to borrow a leaf from Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, who, ever since his election in 2015 has been a subject of public fascination.

It is an open secret that our public services cannot display professionalism, integrity, competence, dedication and punctuality.

Government employees pocket huge sums of money as allowances for workshops they do not attend and workshops that never happened at all. This is what we need to fight against.

It is shameful to be labelled the poorest nation on the planet yet we know the causes. Let us agree to disagree and take the criticism positively for a better tomorrow. If we, at least, swallow our pride and implement what will benefit the common man in the street, we shall all carry our flag smiling.

As citizens, probably it is high time we woke up from our deep slumbers and pressurise those in power to direct us to a better way because idleness will do us more harm than good.

As a nation, we should not relent in our wish to gut down the old negative system for development fostering sake. It might seem not serious for now but let us trust in the words of St Paul while addressing the Galatians: “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’’.

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