Vice-President Saulos Chilima has been appointed the country’s Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) champion, a position that will see him cracking the whip against corruption and fraud in taxpayer-funded projects.
President Peter Mutharika appointed Chilima to the CoST champion position earlier last month, according to a January 19 2015 letter from the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, which facilitates operations in the transport sector in Malawi. The letter was addressed to the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC), the CoST Secretariat.
CoST is a new globally acclaimed initiative bent on ensuring greater transparency and accountability in giving value for public money in projects, including the construction of roads, bridges, schools and markets.
A CoST champion is a respected person of good standing in society who also wields enough political power and oversight to block or take to task those found flouting tender and other accountability procedures.
But although Malawi developed the basic CoST structure, its major drawback was that the nation never had the initiative’s champion for a long period.
Former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika appointed then Economic and Planning Development minister Abbie Shaba as the first CoST champion in Malawi in 2010. But, somehow, the appointment lasted only a few months, as the position was scrapped.
Throughout the two-year tenure of former president Joyce Banda, the post was never restored, despite an appeal by the United Kingdom-based CoST International’s Secretariat, in London, suggesting that the former president, herself, takes up the key post.
Soon after taking over the presidency in May last year, Mutharika also appointed Chilima to spearhead current efforts to reform the civil and public services. n