Major shake-ups are underway in the civil service as President Peter Mutharika has made some 19 changes to top technocrats, some of whom have been demoted, promoted or relocated.
Chief Secretary Lloyd Muhara yesterday confirmed that several Principal Secretaries (PSs) have been affected by the changes, which include Mutharika appointing Seodi White, a former commissioner for Public Sector Reforms, as Chief Director responsible for Public Reforms at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). But when contacted yesterday, White said she was not aware of the appointment.
Muhara told The Nation that the government started implementing the changes several days ago and that, apart from the officers who were promoted, all the shifted PSs will remain on grade C, despite some being made Chief Directors.
“Being a Chief Director is not a demotion, as they will remain in grade C,” he said.
According to information The Nation has sourced, Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani returns to the University of Malawi and Mutharika has since appointed Ben Botolo, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, to be the new Secretary to the Treasury.
Muhara confirmed that Mangani was going back to the University of Malawi. Mangani, a lecturer at Chancellor College in the Department of Economics, was appointed Secretary to the Treasury in 2014 to replace Newby Kumwembe.
As the Secretary to the Treasury, Mangani will be remembered for aggressively pushing for monthly expenditure returns from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) before he could release the next chunk of funding.
Meanwhile, the President has also moved Nwazi Nthambala, PS in the Office of the Vice-President responsible for Public Sector Reforms Management, to Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs.
Two PSs –for Transport and Public Works, Moffat Chitimbe and for Gender, Women and Children Affairs Mary Shawa—have been demoted to Controller of Printing Services at OPC and Chief Director at Transport and Public Works, respectively.
Mutharika has since replaced Chitimbe with Francis Chinsinga, who was the Chief Director at the National Registration Bureau (NRB), and he has appointed Tresphore Kang’ombe to replace Chinsinga at NRB. At Gender Women and Children Affairs, Esmie Kainja has since replaced Shawa.
The President has also transferred PS for Administration in OPC Clement Chinthu Phiri to the office of the Vice-President as PS.
The information gathered by The Nation further shows that the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations Zangazanga Chikhosi has been moved to OPC as PS for administration and that the President has moved the PS for Local Government and Rural Development Stuwart Ligomeka to become the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations.
Mutharika has since promoted Director for Local Government Services Kiswell Dakamau to become PS for Local Government and Rural Development.
The President has also appointed Dr Dan Namarika—former personal doctor to late Bingu wa Mutharika—as Secretary for Health, the position that fell vacant following the retirement of Dr MacPhail Magwira.
Mutharika has also appointed Bestone Chisamile as Chief Director responsible for administration in the same ministry. Chimwemwe Banda, who was the Chief Director retired on January 31, 2017.
The PS for Education Charles Msosa has been relocated to Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, replacing Ivy Luhanga, who has since been relocated to Ministry of Civic Education and Political Development.
utharika has promoted Dr Ken Ndala to become PS for Education.
In another move, Clerk of Cabinet Lucky Sikwese has been moved to Ministry of Labour and Youth Development as PS, replacing Sam Madula, who has since been relocated to Home Affairs, replacing Chisamile who has since been demoted to Chief Director at Ministry of Health.
A source close to the presidency told The Nation that the shake-up in the civil service was to inculcate a spirit of performance which the President announced in January this year.
“Things have been slow at Ministry of Finance and the change is to enhance speed. The appointment of White to head Public Reforms was to ensure continuity of the reforms, as she was already part of the reforms,” said the source.
The source said the changes are expected to continue as they started in January, with the changes of the Chief Secretary, Head of National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and now PSs: “Next, it will be directors.”
But University of Malawi political commentator Joseph Chunga observed that the unnecessary movements of PSs affect operations of the ministries and erode institutional memory.
Chunga further said: “Ideally, PSs are supposed to provide technical support to a ministry, as they are expected to be experienced and well trained and there is a need for reasonable justification why the President should move PSs.”
But Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi differed, saying PSs are simply administrators, adding that the current moves were normal postings.