Governance commentators have received government’s launch of two policies aimed at transforming the civil service with mixed reactions, with some saying it is too little and others arguing they will help Capital Hill to improve performance.
Last week, Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara launched two policies—the Malawi Public Service Management Policy and Malawi National Public Sector Reforms Policy—to improve service delivery in the civil service.
Associate professor and head of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Happy Kayuni, said in an interview on Tuesday the polices should have been introduced a long time ago.
He said without human resource planning (HRP), the strategic plans become useless.
Said Kayuni: “Newly industrialising countries such as China, Singapore and others took HRP seriously. In other words, it is not a surprise that government has failed to achieve some strategic goals over the years due to the neglect of this important aspect.”
Kayuni added that what government has done is “like leading the cart before the horse”.
He said: “We should have introduced these policies at the beginning of the reform exercise to guide the reform process itself but now the system will be operating backward; hence, creating some public sector managerial challenges.”
But another social commentator, Charles Chilimampunga of the Centre for Social Research at Chancellor College, said the policies will help the civil service to perform well, noting that the inactiveness on HRP has affected the civil service a lot.
“Strategic planning and development of human resource must be an ongoing exercise. There should be a link between HRP unit in training institutions so that civil servants receive in line with the needs,” he said.
Among other things, HRP can identify skills and knowledge gaps, poor utilisation of people and developing a talent pool.
Almost all government institutions have been encouraged to develop strategic plans and Malawi has an overarching developmental plan enshrined in the Malawi Growth Development Strategy (MGDS) III.
The new policies seek to establish a fully-fledged HRP unit in the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) while strengthening linkages between human resource planning, development and recruitment.