In the first week of October 2015, I read a press release thus: “Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) would like to inform all its valued customers that following its engagement with the Public Sector Reforms Commission in June 2015, it has pleased His Excellency President Arthur Peter Mutharika to grant approval for the implementation of various reforms in the operations of the board. The approval reforms are as follows:
- Develop a GIS and hydraulic model
- Develop a management information system
- Introduce mobile billing
- Fast-track the implementation of pre-paid water meters
- Diversify revenue through production of bottled water
- Introduce leak detection system
- Reduce non-revenue water
I have quoted parts of the press release for fear of introducing my own interpretations and biases to the message from Lilongwe Water Board.
Now, I invite you to once again read the list of reforms that the “government” has approved to be implemented by LWB. Please kindly do that.
Having finished reading the reform items again, I want you to be honest with yourself, the Vice-President who heads the public sector reform initiative and the President who approved the reforms. Did these reforms have to go all the way to the President? Take introduction of mobile billing, for instance, did this need the President to endorse? What about a management information system? The only answer I find suitable is no.
What about introducing a leak detection system? The answer is no. What about production of bottled water? The answer, again, is no. Go back please to the list and tell me which one of the reforms listed above could not have been dealt with at LWB management level, or if not, its own board? I find none.
You could be wondering what is my interest in picking LWB of all the public sector entities that have had their reforms approved? Well, I will talk about the others when the time comes. But I also respect the Vice-President and I listen to the President. I am very hopeful of the public sector reforms. But if the sort of reforms we will be spending valuable time on are the ones above, then we could be fooling one another.
There is none of the “big hairy audacious” reforms that LWB has gotten approved here. These changes would have been implemented without having the whole President approving. They are not the sort of reforms that needed government executive authority. What is next? You remember, the public has time and time again been reminded that it is quick to point out shortfalls and hesitant to come up with solutions.
So, I want to come in now and offer a solution. The ‘reforms’ that LWB got approved can go ahead, but the Board also needs to be reminded that these are not the sort of reforms that should waste the President’s time. So, they need to go back and come back with “big hairy audacious” reform proposals. And then someone says the whole Public Sector Reform Commission has no legal mandate?n