An Afrobarometer survey on public service delivery has given Malawi a mixed rating with some sectors scoring poorly compared to neighbouring Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Political analysts say the results confirm the general impression that trust in government to deliver essential public services remains low and suggested a policy shift to improve the general well-being of people in the country.
Malawi, according to the survey, scored 14 percent in perceived improvement in State performances whereas Zimbabwe got 15 percent, Mozambique had 18 percent, Zambia got 27 percent and Tanzania received 34 percent.
On perceived ease of access to public utilities, Malawi got a better rating of 33 percent compared to Zambia and Zimbabwe which received 30 and 28 percent, respectively.
But the study, released on April 2 2019 and conducted in 34 African countries from 2016 to 2018, seems to suggest that it is easy to access public utilities in Mozambique and Tanzania which, respectively, scored 40 and 60 percent.
Malawi performed miserably on perceived disrespectful treatment by public official. The country got 34 percent, Mozambique had 22, Zambia had 19, Zimbabwe got 20 while Tanzania got 10 percent.
The study also gave Malawi a poor rating of 14 percent on timely assistance of police “right away”. Zimbabwe scored 28 percent, Zambia got 30, Mozambique received 40 while Tanzania scored 60.
This essentially means that police in neighbouring countries are more responsive than their counterparts in the country.
In an e-mail response to a questionnaire yesterday, a professor in political science at the University of Oslo, Dan Banik, said the country’s democratic dividend has not resulted in greater legitimacy of the political and administrative leadership to promote economic development and societal well-being.
He said: “It should be of major concern to the political and administrative leadership that a large number of citizens routinely get humiliated by arrogant officials and that corrupt acts remain unpunished.”
As a strategy in ensuring an improvement in service delivery, Banik suggested identifying local problems and local solutions that involve and activate community participation and buy-in.
He said things tend to improve quickly when citizens are aware of their rights and claim them by holding local authorities to account for failure to provide essential services.
In a separate telephone interview, Chancellor College political analyst, Mustapha Hussein said there is a need for duty-bearers to realise that the country is not doing well, hence, the need to rework some systems for a change.
“What comes to mind is the bureaucracy or the way things are done by public institutions like senior leadership being complacent in enforcing rules and regulations or negligence and the general work ethics. All these contribute to the picture that we are getting about Malawi,” he said.
And the survey on the other hand further states that payment of bribes to police is 20 percent in Malawi whereas in Tanzania it is 36 percent, for Zambia it is 28 percent, Mozambique it is 25 percent and Zimbabwe is at 23 percent.
Official action on response to corruption report “not likely” is at 48 percent for Malawi, 17 for Tanzania, 48 for Zambia, 34 for Mozambique and 53 percent for Zimbabwe.
Banik said it is surprising that there has not been a major reduction in incidences of corruption by public officers, especially those posted at roadblocks.
“The brazenness and audacity of corrupt acts gives the public the impression that all talk of eradicating corruption is simply hollow.
“It would help public perceptions of anti-corruption reforms if the police were specially targeted,” he said.
But contacted yesterday Minister of Information and Communications Technology, who is also government spokesperson, Henry Mussa, said he was in a meeting and cut the line before the subject was introduced to him.