Three principal secretaries (PSs) have been reshuffled in what government has described as a normal procedure to ensure effective delivery of services in its ministries, departments and agencies.
Following the changes which Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa confirmed in an interview on Sunday, PS for Information, Tourism and Culture Chimwemwe Banda has been shifted to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) to replace Paul Chiunguzeni.
On the other hand, Chiunguzeni has been moved to Ministry of Defence where he replaces Justin Saidi who heads to Information, Tourism and Culture to replace Banda.
Commenting on the changes, Nankhumwa said: “This is a normal process, and no reasons are given. The reshuffle is with immediate effect.”
In a related development, four months after the launch of the Public Sector Reforms, government is still maintaining on its pay-roll over 80 PSs against 19 ministries.
Despite Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s assurance that the number would be reduced, a listing of head of civil service, PSs and heads of constitutional and independent bodies as at March 2015 indicates that the number has reduced by less than two PS.
This development means that millions of taxpayers’ funds are still being spent on the bloated number of PSs who are each entitled to an official vehicle, 500 litres of fuel per month, Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) VIP cover, among others.
Spokesperson for the Public Service Reforms, Constance Kilimo, said government is still committed to resize the number of the PSs and has since stopped recruiting until the exercise is completed.
She said: “There is a lot that is happening. This is a process and, therefore, will not take one night to be completed. But PSs will be retired normally and some will be deployed.”
In an earlier interview, Nankhumwa said the retiring and redeployment of some PSs needed to wait for the 2015/16 National Budget set to roll out on July 1, but government is committed to reducing the number of PSs.
Said the minister: “There were meetings which were held, consultations with stakeholders all these were part of the first phase and the second phase needed the budget and once this is done, government will carry the work as promised.”
In December 2014, Chilima said the number of PSs, which stood at 96, would be reduced by 56 as part of the public sector reform.
According to Chilima, the number would be reduced to 40 as it created redundancies with some PSs no longer having a ministry to support.
“The exercise would be done through a transparent and consultative process in order to ensure fairness and credibility, this exercise will be done by deleting irrelevant portfolios, deploying some PSs and exiting those that may not be required within the system,” he was quoted as having said.
Furthermore, Chilima said government will only retain one position where there are two. Many big ministries have more than one PS.