As of Monday, the public service has three people enjoying the benefits that come with the Grade A status bestowed only on the Chief Secretary to the Government.
The appointment of Lloyd Muhara as Chief Secretary and redeployment of George Mkondiwa as ambassador to India after he got a five year extension to his contract when he was due to retire in October 2016 means Malawi taxpayers are paying three Chief Secretaries in addition to Hawa Ndilowe who was redeployed to Tanzania as Malawi envoy instead of just firing her to enjoy early retirement.
In case you did not note the announcement from State House this past week, the key word to describe Mkondiwa’s move was ‘redeployment’ and not appointment. The man remains on his grade enjoying astronomical pay just because someone was too weak to say no to such ludicrous demands of a five-year extension from a man who is nearing age 60 to go and play with his grandchildren.
The redeployment of Mkondiwa on Grade A joining Ndilowe is in addition to three people enjoying benefits of the position of Army Commander.
Following the appointment of Griffin Supuni to replace Ignancio Maulana who was given the not so lofty post of head of security of the maize silos until his retirement next year.
Henry Odillo, who President Peter Mutharika fired in 2014, continues to enjoy perks of an army commander even as he faces Cashgate charges.
One wonders if the Malawi economy in the pathetic state that it is in and tax burdened individuals as well as private sector can afford to be contributing to such maladministration of the public service.
There are so few people who are paying 40 percent for Pay As You Earn, living hand-to-mouth who are having to pay for this mismanagement which should not condoned.
The Public Service Commission headed by the Vice-President Saulos Chilima has made attempts to clean up the top brass of the public service by having fewer people carting home 500 litres of fuel and a Prado to boot.
There are currently 45 Principal Secretaries, four of whom are on two year contracts ending 2017 while two others are on secondment including Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani, was seconded from the University of Malawi.
Failure to act on Mkondiwa is making a mockery of the strides which have been made so far in Public Service Reforms Programme (PSRP).
When the other PSs realise that it is possible to negotiate contract extensions with the President, what is the public service going to do with the Chief Directors who were poised to be promoted to PS level?
What is the Vice-President and his commission going to say to Malawians now? That cleaning up the civil service top brass was frustrated by a few individuals who went to bootlick at State House?
If public service reforms cannot be implemented at such a high-level, chances are that the Public Service Remuneration Board, whose legislation is imminent, will be a non-starter and will not be implemented.
The chaos that has characterised the public service will continue and the much touted programme of natural attrition of the PSs will have been a waste of time of the commission which commandeered this process as well as an insult to Malawians who had high expectations of this adminstration in this area. n