Vice-President and chairperson of the Public Service Reforms Commission Saulos Chilima has said changes would be pursued to ensure that remuneration of public servants is strictly linked to performance management.
The Vice-President made the remarks at the opening of the annual retreat for Principal Secretaries (PSs) and heads of Constitutional and independent bodies in Mangochi on Monday.
He said this week the commission would be making announcements on which ministries will take the lead in reforms.
While quelling fears of massive job losses during the reform process, Chilima said it could not be avoided.
Said the Vice-President in an interview: “There are a lot of vacancies in the civil service, but when reforms take place we are not saying we want to remove people, but we will check the relevance of their positions and we will delete [some posts] as part of right sizing and restructuring.
“The reforms will be pursued. It is not a matter of multiple-choice. They will be done if we are to have a high performing, accountable and modern civil service.”
He asked the PSs and heads of other public institutions to support the reforms and held a two-hour closed-door meeting with the officials to brief them on the changes.
“We agree that we must reform; not reforming is not an option. It is the shape, speed and when those reforms will take place that remains to be decided,” he said.
Among the expected civil service reforms are introduction of incentives and bonuses for exceptional performance to motivate high performers.
“We cannot develop this country if our public service has no sense of direction, if it is characterised by indiscipline and has no system of rewarding hardworking public servants and fails to sanction unruly ones,” the Vice-President said.
On the salary harmonisation policy that his commission is working on, but has irked Constitutional bodies such as Judiciary and Anti-Corruption Bureau, Chilima said there was no going back.
“It is not a one-day job, but we have started. It will take three to four years to get to where we want to be,” he emphasised.
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said the annual retreat, which has not been held for the past four years, was an opportunity to strategise on how the civil service would regain its lost and battered trust with the public following revelations of plunder of public resources.
Last week, a report on government’s reform agenda showed steady progress on the ambitious programme, with several changes already under implementation and others in advanced stages of discussions.
According to the document that details updates on the reforms and seen by The Nation, since its appointment the commission has been conducting various consultative public hearings/interviews with various stakeholders to hear issues that need to be addressed in the public sector to provide concrete reform recommendations.
Titled ‘Progress and Government Plans and Priorities for Public Service Reform’, the report has been compiled by the Public Sector Reforms Management Unit (PSRMU), which was established in the Office of the Vice-President to coordinate all the reforms.