Malawi needs a permanent reform process not creation of permanent public service reform ministry as recommended by the Public Service Reform Commission report, an expert has said.
In the report released last week, the commission—besides proposing the establishment of a permanent independent Reforms Commission—recommends the creation of a Ministry of Public Service Reforms to strengthen the Reforms Unit.
Making his comments on various recommendations of the report in an interview yesterday, Chancellor College associate professor of public administration Happy Kayuni stressed that the creation of a big institution is not necessary as “reforms are not government’s core business”.
He said: “Reform is not a core issue like health, education or agriculture. Reforms are processes that just need to be embedded in every ministry.”
Kayuni added that the country’s civil service needs effective smaller units to manage reforms not creating big ones which, often, get boggled in administrative issues in the process failing to live up to its core duties.
He warned that creation of a big institution will not just drain the country’s resources, but also lead to more white elephants.
Kayuni also urged caution at the commission’s take to relook at the civil service structure and delete all irrelevant positions to come up with a lean and vibrant organisation.
He added that having a lean civil service was part of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) of the West, which wanted government to run like a business entity. He advised that Malawians should not forget that government has a duty to protect its people, not necessarily making profits.
However, Kayuni lauded the commission for recommending that some public positions—in a quest to avoid the perception that there is political interference in appointments and termination of employment of officers—should follow the presidential tenure of office.
Some of the positions include: the Attorney General, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), the Chief Secretary to Government, the director general of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the Inspector General of Police, the commander of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Secretary to the Treasury, the budget director, the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the commissioner general of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). n