Britain wants Malawi to deliver on reform agenda

British High Commissioner Michael Nevin has said the Public Sector Reforms Programme being championed by government are a step in the right direction but he was quick to add that implementation is key.

President Peter Mutharika, British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin and Vice President Chilima share a light moment

President Peter Mutharika, British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin and Vice President Chilima share a light moment

Speaking during the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday in Lilongwe on Monday evening, Nevin said there is need for a “reform movement that can be seen and felt not just hear about, the one that is concerned with the outcome not just the process”.

He added: “Unless there is a radical overhaul of thinking and delivery, we will remain dealing with overwhelming symptoms and not their causes, focusing on emergency care rather than promoting long-term health, wellbeing and economic transformation.”

The British envoy said reformists should ensure Malawi is ready for “the game changing advantages” of the Nacala Corridor; overcoming bureaucratic inertia and vested interests.

“It is worrying that the [Nacala Corridor] railway is finished, but Malawi does not have anything yet to take advantage of it,” pointed out Nevin.

Nevin observed that government’s steps to embark on the reform process are not new.

He said: “Through joined-up, focused action, Malawi could progress up anti-corruption and fraud league tables and yet the updated anti-money laundering legislation still languishes in the system.”

Nevin continued: “We want this government to succeed with their reform agenda, but delivery is the name of the game. Success will be measured in plans, which translates into impact. It means a vision and plan that fosters initiative and responsibility, weaning people of dependency and entitlement.”

The British High Commissioner said the reform movement “does not talk about irrigation schemes but implements them, along with broader agricultural reform so that Malawians do not go hungry year– on year.”

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, who was the guest of honour at the function, said government is engaging different people in the country to make the reforms a success in which case there is also a requirement for change of attitude towards governance on the part of Malawians.

“We might be seen to be slow with the reform process but we are committed as government but the hiccups are as a result of capacity and inadequate resources. I promise you that we will deliver,” he said.

Upon assuming power through victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, President Peter Mutharika embarked on a Public Service Reforms Programme chaired by Vice-President Saulos Chilima to improve service delivery and productivity in the public sector, among other goals.

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22 thoughts on “Britain wants Malawi to deliver on reform agenda”

  1. Joe wa Kalunji says:

    It is time some of these so-called untouchable countries stopped bossing us every time they want to comment on our domestic issues. They pretend they have all the solutions to our problems. Unfortunately, they have successfully planted the same attitude in some of our citizens who now believe there can never be a better Malawi without Britain- wrong, very wrong !!! While we cannot rule out assistance from other countries, it must be said that there is no country on earth that can entirely be an island, complete in itself. We need each other. Even the so-called rich countries need those countries they sarcastically describe as poor, otherwise where would they sell their goods and services? Next time you comment on domestic issues do it with a measure of respect.

  2. Independent malawians says:

    Micheal Nevin should stop words like Weaning Malawian people from dependency and entitlement. He forgets the British depency syndrome on handouts they call benefits.Malawian people are hardworking who do not get any benefit from the govt like the lazy bum Britons.Donor money is put into politicians pockets.He should be referring to Mutharika,Saulos and their Lomwe cronies.Britons do not feed us.We pay our own bills,we pay our kids fees with our own money.So these mzungus should stop using those demeaning words like we all depend on their handouts.Micheal Nevin should simply shut up if he has nothing to say to Malawians.Britain doesn’t look after us.We look after ourselves.Stop generalising the situations.We are all not beggars.

  3. mbani says:

    Rerforms what we want 92 back for aid resumption

  4. opg says:

    whites came to mw in 1800 but even their culture is still alien to most malawians, so this radical overhaul mindset is a beutiful joke. leave us like this we are happy having politicians feed on our taxes

  5. Gulugufe says:

    Azunguwa atikwana. Ofunika kuwakumbutsa kuti tinasiya kudya kwawo!

  6. mtumbuka1 says:

    Nevin your observation has been noted but talking to peter mutharika the captain of the thieving dpp team is a total waste of time. He is rude and has a stinking ego. The only Malawians he cares about are his lomwe ministers he appointed and it’s my pray that their votes will be enough for him to win the next elections.

  7. Chesterton says:

    I see most of the commenters shooting the messenger her, as usual.

    ‘Whites don’t tell us what to do!’ ‘Colonialists’

    Where are the local ‘activists’ and so-called ‘journalists’ questioning the much-touted benefits of the Nacala corridor?

    Millions were spent on this project, concessions were given to foreign companies by your local politicians.

    It was hailed as a way to reduce transport costs into Malawi. Import prices would be reduced.

    Prices for the many basic goods we import into this country would be reduce. The local man and his family would be better off.

    Did this materialise?

    Absolute stone- dead silence from the government and ‘commentators’.

    Then when the diplomat points this out you shout ‘colonialists’ and ‘racists’!

    If we can’t get past the empty rhetoric and address the real issues, then Malawi will never develop.

    It is a shame that it took a foreigner to point this out.

    Where are all the ‘geniuses’ and so-called ‘professors’ in this country?

  8. OBSERVER says:


  9. Chesterton says:

    Ah yes, the Nacala corridor.

    The project worth hundreds of million, that was championed by the government as cutting transport costs into Malawi.

    Millions spent, thousands of Malawians cleared off their land.

    Any update from the government?

    Have transport costs fallen? Has government invested in new rail freight carriages and depots to take advantage of this new railway?

    Have they sped up clearing of freight at borders?

    Nothing but stone silence from the government.

    Spend the millions, kick out the Malawians.

    No change or improvement in the country.

    Time goes on..

  10. Callistara wa Chimombo Mathanyula says:

    Peter should reform himself first before talking of other people or civl service to reform. Peter is perfect tribalist. F….k

  11. Nophiya says:

    Implementation, or lack thereof, is a very big problem in Malawi. As Nevin has rightly observed, in Malawi our focus is always on the process – never on the outcome. We will happily go on countless study tours but nothing gets implemented. Even by African standards we lag woefully behind.

    The problem starts right from the President, all the way down to the cleaner. There are two major reasons for this perennial Malawian problem. The first and most important reason is lack of political will. Malawian politicians right from independence are preoccupied with amassing power and wealth for themselves (the ‘entitlement’ the High Commissioner is talking about). Secondly we have a largely illiterate and docile population that actually repays politicians for their neglect: If Malawi had been a different country there is no way DPP would have been returned to power so soon after their misrule between 2009 and 2012.

  12. Bongozozo says:

    If it was Saulos only running the government, reforms would have been possible. But since there is someone on the driving seat, it will never happen. We will talk and talk but we will never walk the talk. Ofcourse a few things will change, but they will be to little to show to the nation.

    1. Bandawe says:

      The British envoy is correct. This administration has on multiple times told the nation that they have this in plan, they are going to do ABC, they give us promises and appoint multiple commissions with nothing to show for.

  13. Chawanangwa says:

    Do not just talk about reforms…implement them! Malawians are very goog at writing policy documents but policies are never implemented. I remember seeing the president, vice president and DPP followers celebrating compilation of reforms that they want to see in the Civil Service and wondering why they are celebrating. Why celebrate something that you have not achieved – you have just drawn a plan on paper but have not executed it. It’s as foolish as celebrating the award of a Bachelor’s Degree while in first year…you may not complete the course, you may get weeded! So why do you celebrate something you have not succeeded at? – it’s because you know you will not implement them! Anything project that we intend to undertake should have SMART objectives (S = specific, M = measurable, A =attainable, R = realistic, T = time-bound). So even with these reforms, we should be specific about what we want to achieve, what we want to achieve should be measurable (we should have a means of assessing whether we have achieved or failed to achieve what we wanted to do) and we should have a time limit to achieve what we want to do.

  14. mjiba says:

    This was an event to mark the birthday of one of the longest serving despot who cannot abdicate in favour of her younger, energetic son or grandson. The statement of the High commissioner commenting on Malawi Government reforms is completely out of order and not befitting the occasion. This was not an occasion for Nevin to question the Malawi Govt on the progress of the public sector reforms or to cast doubts about their implementation. Was he asked when will the despot monarch abdicate so that younger ruler should take over???

    1. Zamadula says:

      Please do not display your ignorance here. The British monarch is ceremonial – real power rests with Parliament. She is just a ceremonial head of state for the UK, Canada, Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand and a few other countries (especially islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific).

      Do not allow your hatred to cloud your judgement – make an attempt to understand world affairs…someone with no real power cannot be called a despot.

  15. mwahana says:

    Yes to the point, too much talking and finger pointing to the past government but no real action.One step forward two backwards!!!!!

  16. We are not a colony!!!

  17. ujeni says:

    Nevin tell them. They are good are going for dinner parties than implementing real reform. All around us countries are busy improving infrastructure like roads and railway lines why us we are watching on the sidelines busy eating dinner parties.

  18. Kingsley Jika says:

    Although argued for being too theoretical, the simplest reform process or picture (and reform is a public policy issue) is: agenda setting (incorporating problem definition/identification); policy formulation; policy implementation (and continuous monitoring); and policy evaluation. You can define problems and raise issues (setting agenda); make options or find strategies (policy formulation); but putting these options or strategies into reality (implementation) is the ISSUE. Implementation requires (1) sacrifice (and sacrifice goes beyond commitment) and (2) ownership. Sacrifice is where leaders take the beating, lead in battle, and pave the way through vision, action and inspiration. (What the police officers did in Mangochi and what the Mzuzu Mayor has just done are true examples of sacrifice. You can also get some from late Thomas Sankara & Rwandan President and his refusal for toothpaste). Ownership is where, through observation, people begin to believe that whatever we are doing is for our good and of that of our children and so we must own it and blame ourselves for failure or hail ourselves for success. The debate now, without, taking credit for things which are our own, should be: what sacrifices should we take, and how should we perceive reform regardless of political colour? This is our country; we cannot keep failing, for every failure is a failure to us all as Malawians who were given (by GOD) this wonderful piece of peace (intended) called Malawi.

  19. viyazi tembo says:


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