We need public service overhaul

Last week was quite an eventful week with three major events sticking out. From Mid-Year Budget Review meeting, to dismissal of President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) applications to stay enforcement of the judgement made by the Constitutional Court on February 3 2020.

Then there was the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament which, following the Concourt order to look into the competence of MEC commissioners, summoned and interrogated seven MEC commissioners, Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah.

For the first time, Malawians were given a rare opportunity to listen to the PAC meeting live on various broadcast media houses.

One thing that stuck out from PAC meeting is that many Malawians expressed shock and disappointment with how some commissioners responded to questions and generally, to some revelation of widespread laisse faire approach to work.

Of particular interest was commissioner Linda Kunje’s attitude—the woman who slammed the door in the face of PAC members, consequently in the face of Malawians. Right from the start commissioner Kunje was uncompromising in her attitude. It was clear she came prepared to spit fire and spit fire she did.

Her attitude wasn’t that surprising. Commissioner Kunje is a reflection of the attitude of most public officers. You find them in government offices and institutions. These public officers oftentimes, do not have the right prerequisites to be there, except for political connections, but they become big-headed and untouchable. Once put in the positions, they start looking at any Malawian as inferior to them.

It was clear from the PAC interrogation that some commissioners don’t understand the scope of their position and have little knowledge of the laws governing MEC.

They stammered and muffled some responses while trying hard to fool PAC members and Malawians. Luckily, Malawians can no longer be taken for fools. They were to see right through their lies. In short, it is clear that the May 21 2019 elections were a mess because the commissioners slept on the job.

Honestly, their attitude is a true reflection of the general work attitude prevalent in the public service. The lack of attention to detail, deliberately flouting set out procedures in favour of short-cuts that produce shoddy work has become the norm in the public service.

There is a lot of normalising the abnormal in the public service that oftentimes goes unnoticed and unpunished.

Most commissioners, except Bishop Mary Nkosi, said without batting an eye that they did not see anything wrong in using Tippex—something that is not provided for in the electoral laws.

One could clearly see that the delegation of tasks in some instances, was done without due diligence. There is nothing wrong in delegating tasks but any good leader knows that delegation has to be effective—do not delegate for the sake of it.

One can only hope that after her showdown at Parliament, commissioner Kunje has had time to reflect on her behaviour which is not befitting of a person holding a position such as the one she holds.

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