September 2 2021
So, President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima made a surprise visit to the very seat of government in Lilongwe. MG1 and MG2 were at Capital Hill to understand for themselves why there are delays in payment of civil servants’ salaries, a thing that has often been blamed on the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis).
The Malawi leader made the detour to the Department of Human Resource Management as on his way to the Kamuzu Palace from the Bingu International Convention Centre where he oversaw the launch of the Scaling Up Nutrition campaign.
The surprise visit comes at a time some civil servants have been complaining that delays in salary deposits is leading to penalties for workers who have loans with financial institutions.
Speaking on Thursday at a function where he launched the six-lane Kenyatta Road project in Lilongwe, Roads Authority board chairperson Joe Ching’ani spilled some beans. He bluntly put it in front of Chakwera that the Ifmis is one of the reasons that frustrate the speed at which projects are carried out.
Ching’ani did indicate that payment for contractors take forever because of the very system that was supposed to speed up things.
The presidential visit must have caught the civil servants unawares. Without fanfare, it is clear, most of them were caught off -guard.
It goes without saying that some civil servants have their own way of stamping their authority. Some deliberately slow down processes to get some kickbacks.
It has been said more than once by some civil servants that they work with a laissez-faire approach because they don’t really know who employed them.
The management by walking around Chakwera and Chilima initiated must have jolted some of the civil servants who were dozing on the job to stir to action.
Had the President announced he would be going to visit, that mandasi bucket on one of the desks could not have been there. Surely, the workers could have prepared ready answers to explain where lies the problem.
It appears to be a tradition we don’t want to shed off in this day and age. It may be a culture that starts from most homes where announced visitors find the house in spick and span. It has trickled to the way people work.
The other day, Chilima was scheduled to visit Manja Township. All of a sudden, Blantyre City Council employees went to the town the previous day to work on the roads. That was primarily to hoodwink the veep. Unfortunately for the workers, Chilima has been a regular to the township to know how rugged the roads there are.
One can only hope the servants did not return to their old ways and that improvements will not only be done, they will also be seen to be done.