Chief secretary’s role in Malawi civil service: DD Phiri

The civil service is the key sector of society in a developmental State such as ours. If it is weak, incompetent and disgruntled, the ill-effects will be felt elsewhere. For this reason the reforms that have been undertaken should be resumes and concentrate on the role of the chief secretary.

Mkondiwa: Chief Secretary

Mkondiwa: Chief Secretary

The title chief secretary was used during the colonial days to refer to the official who had overall responsibility for the efficient performance of the civil service. He was answerable to the governor who was also known in the colonial office as officer administering colony x.

With the advent of Cabinet government, the title chief secretary was changed to secretary to the president and Cabinet. During the first Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the title chief secretary was restored. It is not clear whether these changes in titles affected the job description of the top civil servant.

Too many things have gone wrong and are going wrong in the civil service for which no single person seems responsible. There is the ubiquitous Cashgate scandal. Is there nobody whom we can confront and say where were you when these things were happening? Hefty sums of money were being paid to bogus government contractors and nobody raised an alarm!

Such irregular things as over paying members of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and payments to ghost civil servants have been uncovered by investigative journalists. Does the civil service not have its own structures for detecting such underhand activities?

Civil servants have paid themselves allowances for conferences that never took place. Why did the paymaster issue cheques or release funds for fictitious services?

Time and time again we have heard of someone whose contract of service has abruptly been cancelled, demanding compensation for the remaining months or years and government paying two salaries for one job, one salary to the dismissed official, another salary to the one who has taken over. Why does government impose on itself extortionate contracts? Are its legal advisors or drafters of the law aware of people’s needs and what the civil service is supposed to do for them? Excessive concessions in contracts are at the expense of the public.

The civil service should operate according to principles, not haphazardly. What is the relationship between government and its employees? Is the government obliged to give them salary hikes even in conditions of economic recessions?

Though workers have a right to go on strike when their demands are not being met, endemic strikes destroy an economy. There must be a point where the government should be able to say ‘this is what is available for you, anything beyond this will be detrimental to those who need treatment in hospitals; we need spare funds to create jobs for the unemployed and to save lives of the victims of droughts’.

Government has a responsibility to all citizens not just to lobbyists and other pressure groups. Those who are inciting other employees to be uncompromising should be reminded that they are free to quit the civil service and look for better terms elsewhere.

From history, we learn that dictators arose in situations where governments were vacillating and where no progress was taking place.

The chief secretary’s job description should be updated in view of the misdeeds and incompetencies in the civil service. He must be made responsible for the efficient functioning of the entire civil service without passing the buck.

Though it is true that methods that work in corporations are not suitable for the public services, some have been tried and have proved effective. When Dame Margaret Thatcher took over the government in Britain, one of the first things she did was to inject economy and efficiency in the civil service. She brought in managers and a conglomerate to advise her, the results were satisfactory.

In the private sector, management is vigilant on effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Effectiveness means doing the things which ought to be done and leaving out trivia. Efficiency means achieving maximum results at minimum cost; economy means using a less expensive tool or transport to achieve the same results as using a more expensive one.

  • The article first appeared in The Nation newspaper
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27 thoughts on “Chief secretary’s role in Malawi civil service: DD Phiri”

  1. FootSoldier says:

    Do not fool yourselves there are no reforms! This only a rue to “personalize the civil service” or put bluntly to ” Mutharikalize , MTL-lize, and Lomwelize” the civil service! The chief secretary must “spearhead” the governmental component of the nation’s development, do you see anything in the CS’s we have had so far to be able to do that apart from being content to get the hefty perks they get!

  2. petulo dzimphuno ngati mauna a mbewa says:

    Ma Democracies amene zinthu zimayenda bwino Chief Secretary ndi President amakhala at par, winayo Political Head winayo Head of Civil Service. komanso Chief Secretary SAYENERA KUWOPA KANTHU AMAYENERA AZIPANGA BLOCK POLITICAL INFLUENCE IN THE RUNNING OF CIVIL SERVICE. KOMA ALAS IN MALAWI IN THE DPP LED/STOLEN GOVERNMENT TILIBE an SC with a spine okana ma political appointments. Anthu tingokumvani kuyamikila ma reform kuyamikila achilima, a Malawi tsekulani masoooo dzukaniiiiii mukugona a Malawi kuchititsa chifundooo. inu chilima ndi pitala ndi fabiano akukuwuzani kuti ana anu sazilemba mayeso a JC inu mukuti ndi ma reform otukula dziko amenewo. JC akuchotsa kuti a save ndalama aziba azitengana pa maulendo wa ku New York azipereka ma contract onama nkumapatsana ndalama kwa anthu amodzimodzi ochokera kumwera. a Malawi tadzukani inuuu.
    iyeyo chilima ngati ali wachilungamo atiwuze why he is favouring people from Ntcheu in his promotions. Ngati amaganiza kuti ku education kuchitika reform iliyonse adabwa zifukwa zake ndi izii: kodi anthu ena ndiye azigwira ntchito koma promotion nkumapatsa anthu aku ntcheu? Chomvetsa chisoni ndi chakuti anthu aku ntcheuwo akumachotsedwa kumbuyooo kubwera kudzakhala mabwana a anthu oti ali deserving. kukanika kwa ma reform kuyambila pamenepa kulepheranso kwa chief secretary kukuwonekera pamenepa. last year Chilimayo adapanga promote PS wa secondary ndi Basic wa ku ntcheu munthu oti adali deputy director kudutsa ma director ambilimbili. ichi sichilungamo, anthu amadandaula, ntchito choncho siienda anthu amati tiwawonere. Chilima yemweyo chaka chino wagwilanso ku education wachotsa Lindiwe Chide ku state house kudzamuyika deputy director wa planning pamene ku planning ko kuli anthu oti adakhala kalekale amagwila ntchito bwino lomwee koma kuwasiya kukatenga aku ntcheu. chomvetsa chisoni mchakuti anthu ku planning ma P5 omwe adakatha kusuntha kubwera pa Deputy Director alipo ndithu. koma chilima amafuna azibale ake akhale wina PS SECONDARY WINA AKHALE DEPUTY DIRECTOR PLANNING, IZI NZOMVETSA CHISONII. Kodi a Malawi, NDIYE MA REFORM AWAAA? IWE CHILIMAWE MULUNGU AKULANGE ANTHU AKO UDAWAPATSA MAUDINDO AKULUAKULU KUMAPITILILA ANTHU ENA CHIFUKWA NDI AKWANU PLUS KUTI AMAGWIRITSA APHUNZITSI NTCHITO KUMABERA CHISANKHO ACHITE MANYAZIIIII. IFE TIKUTI These ARE INJUSTICES PERPETRATED BY CHILIMA AND GOD IS WATCHING AND WILL NOT LEAVE IT AS SUCH COZ IT IS AN INJUSTICE

  3. mtima wa nyani says:

    zedidi DOBO TIDAZEELELA UOMBERA MFITI MMANJA, SITIDZASINTHA A MW ANTA. KUSETEKA MBUZI YOTIKODZELA

  4. NAPhiri says:

    Civil service reform. Good idea. But analogous to rehabilitating an old vehicle and expect it on the road without fuel. With the rising prices of commodities and services in Malawi, salary increase is an important entity in the process. No matter how powerful you may be in driving a horse to a well, you cannot succeed to make it take a sip of water. Is this economic crisis for the junior civil servant only? Nanunso change your mindsets please. Lets develop this country together. We are not your machines. Did we vote for you in order to make us suffer like this?

  5. Wopanda Tsogolo Phiri says:

    “quit the civil service and look for better terms” is not a solution DDPHIRI! Will it be okey if your son/daughter joins ISIS/ISIL in response to your “rotten and myopic” advice? So you are remotely co-driving “chi bus chakuphwachi?”. Anthu okalambanu mutisunga?

  6. Wopanda Tsogolo Phiri says:

    “quit the civil service and look for better terms” is not a solution DDPHIRI!! Will it be okey if your son/daughter joins ISIS/ISIL in response to your “rotten and myopic” advice??? So you are remotely co-driving “chi bus chakuphwachi?”. Anthu okalambanu mutisunga???

  7. DOBO says:

    Some of the issues raised by this old man, DD Phiri are true. It is true that Malawi Civil Service is very weak and that things have gone wrong and are still going wrong in the Civil Service . However,DD Phiri has run away from identifying the root cause of these problems, the root cause that the Politician allowed to appoint loyalists in all key positionst in civil service in order to enrich themselves. The theory is that the more the people you oppress the more you survive. The one who oppress ten people cannot survive the survive the same way as the one oppressing a million. The problem with most Malawians is that they don’t know that they are being oppressed. That is why these politicians do have supporters even if they cannot deliver.The most oppressed people are those who support the oppressive and they are always poor and dependent .

  8. DOBO says:

    Some of the issues raised by this old man, DD Phiri are true. It is true that Malawi Civil Service is very weak and that things have gone wrong and are still going wrong in the Civil Service . However,DD Phiri has run away from identifying the root cause of these problems, the root the civil service by appointing loyalists in all key positions in order to enrich themselves. The theory is that the more the people you oppress the more you survive. The one who oppress ten people cannot survive the survive the same way as the one oppressing a million. The problem with most Malawians is that they don’t know that they are being oppressed. That is why these politicians do have supporters even if they cannot deliver.The most oppressed people are those who support the oppressive and they are always poor and dependent .

  9. dadaboma says:

    Mr DD Phiri wakutumani APM eti? “Those who incite other employees to become uncompromising should be reminded that they are free to quit and seek better terms elsewhere” is a rude statement reminiscent of DPP’s Bungu and APM. DPP needs to change their mindset: respect civil service; listen to their needs and be compromising to their demands – their demands are neither preposterous nor impossible to meet. If govt. can sponsor a trip of over 100 people to UNGA, buy expensive cars for Bowler and Parliament, maintain expensive motor cade for wife of president, why should it be arrogant to civil servants? Don’t you know that civil servants are custodians of govt resources and the engine of economic growth? Don’t you know that arrogance to civil service is the root cause of cashgate and underperformance? Give civil servants better working conditions – then they will be happy with their govt and become patriotic. If you DD Phiri have been hired by DPP to kill Malawi in the same way as DPP hired thugs to kill Njauju, then your days are numbered.

  10. Ernest Banda says:

    LET US LOVE OUR COUNTRY

  11. TV says:

    This big head is full of mamina. Go to retirement.

  12. Alfred Newmann says:

    The article makes a lot of sense. We must heed it, or perish.

  13. Mavipatako says:

    Rubbish

  14. ben phiri says:

    kodi action ibwera bwanji tipite ku msewu mukukopedwa ndi K50.00 , ma cso ena tayetsetsa koma inu adyera mukuaphweteketsa ena.ena ife ama cso zanthu zinayera kale salary above million shop yogula bread imodzi.muganidze bwino

  15. Concerned Citizen says:

    I would say in general the solution is right at our finger tips. If a Catholic Secondary school can after getting superb grades, fire 3 teachers for poor performance, then what more with the civil service?

    How many Government teachers have been fired for incompetence.

    In general it starts from the top. Non performers should go from the top and this should work its way down.

    An example would be, what if all government schools got rid of at least two teachers who got the worst grades in the school, would this not work wonders? If this was replicated across the different sectors of the civil service?

    You must fire non-performers without thinking twice. It is the only way. After all there are many competent people who are ready to take up these posts.

    Let us as a nation not tolerate/ entertain mediocrity. It should have no place in our nation.

  16. msozi coole says:

    A Malawi kucitidwa rape in broad lite day. APA tinenapa mkuluyu wapita ndi caponda Ku India. Watseka pakamwa amu ofesi take kuti anthu asaziwa. Kubisala my plastik bag. Akanasainabe ma allawasi. Koma life a my ofesi yako yomweyo sizikutisangalasa.
    LA city fote lizakwana a mdara. Kukula mutu sikuti multi ndi zeruzose air
    Nangodusamo

  17. Mwethu says:

    We already have the Veep trying to inject efficiency and effectiveness in the system, but he is being weighed down by the old guards who see any change as a danger to their survival. It will really take a massive dose of political will to change the system, I was once there and I know how it works. We came in with fresh ideas from college, and all we were told was that’s theory it can’t work, but deep down most know that its possible to have an efficient and effective public service in Malawi. But corruption has taken root too much and no one wants to let go of that.

  18. mingoli says:

    aMkondiwa chitani manyazi pumani chonde, anzanu achitekonso e-eeeeh! Ntchito kuchita abuse ana basi.

  19. John says:

    WHEN IS THIS BIG-HEADED CHIEF SECRETARY GOING? I THOUGHT RECRUITMENT, RE-HIRING, PROMOTIONS WERE FROZEN UNTIL THE ECONOMY IS BACK ON TRACK! WHY DO WE HAVE SELECTIVE APPOINTMENTS? WHAT IS SO SPECIAL WITH NKONDIWA WHICH OTHERS CANNOT DO?

    NKONDIWA’S SALARY CAN EMPLOY 20 NURSES (TECHNICIANS)! THIS GOVERNMENT NEVER STOPS TO AMAZE ME!!!

  20. Must says:

    What is George Mkondiwa and James Chuma doing in India? Can somebody tell me? Is this good for our ailing economy? I am yet to be corrected.

  21. Nagama says:

    Mkondiwa must go. Office ya boma kaka ngati umfumu! Stupid!

  22. Chief says:

    Peter has run out of plans to renew the contract of Mkondiwa. This man (Mkondidwa) is a big time sale out. You will know him soon.

  23. Hitto says:

    This is the most incompetent Chief Secretary Malawi ever had. I don’t know why the President renewed his contract when Mkondiwa was going for retirement. May be its (DPP)Malawi Reform.

  24. levelheaded says:

    Constructive article from a reknown patriot “Desmond Duduwa Phiri” I salute you sir.

  25. marvey marvei says:

    As you are aware the Civil Service is an institution of records, rules, procedures and systems prescribing how different functions, activities and individuals in positions should interact. Anyone working in the public service, works within that framework.
    If there is an audit report out there that has issues with a public body, I am sure the system will pick it. However Formal rules must apply.

    With due respect Adada Phiri shouldn’t you have advised your son Khumbo Phiri, MEC’s Director of Finance to seek an appointment with the Chief Secretary and alert him of the ‘irregular’ activities at the institution and his own role as custodian of the budget before leaking half baked stories to ‘investigative’ journalists at your own Nation Newspaper.

    In that regard the CS would have had no choice but to respond to a FORMAL process.

  26. benjnes says:

    WE NEED ACTION NOT WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Mhesha says:

    Big up DD Phiri.

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