Give us tough love the Magufuli way: Malawi have lessons to learn from new Tanzania President

For such a small country, Malawi likes its things big. Big cabinet, big number of civil servants, five big presidential residences, a big parliament and big cars on the big presidential convoy.

President of Tanzania Dr John Magufuli engages in press-up at a rally before

President of Tanzania Dr John Magufuli engages in press-up at a rally before

Anyone with any truth in them will tell you, though, that Malawi can run on half the number of civil servants, half the ministers, half the MPs and half the Permanent Secretaries it is using today. The president can run on two state residences and half the number of vehicles on his motorcade.

But it is mostly for political reasons that the government wants everything to be big. In the attendant confusion, politically-connected people stand to benefit because we know that the bigger the government, the greater the opportunities for big (and some small) corruption. So instead of reducing public expenditure by cutting down on its bloated bureaucracy, successive governments maintained a constantly ballooning civil service.

It is true that there is significant unemployment and underemployment in this country and people are looking for jobs, any kind of job, even the ones they didn’t go to school for. But the Malawi government can’t be the place to accommodate people who can’t be employed elsewhere.

Government workers need to understand that their wages don’t come out of thin air. For the most part, wages have to be earned in profits by the company they work for. The company they work for is the government of Malawi and it is broke. That the government has almost twice the number of drivers on its payroll than the number of vehicles it has, for example, is scandalous. What are the rest of the slackers doing at Capital Hill, without vehicles to drive? If you want a fine example of what happens when a government spends on the civil service more than it can afford, look no further than Zimbabwe.

President Peter Mutharika knows this and his irritation with a bloated civil service is evident. He told those who felt government salaries were too low to go and look for jobs elsewhere. Of course, upsetting civil servants is a political minefield in this country, but that’s to be expected.

I would say he goes right ahead and let vice president Saulosi Chilima move with speed on reforming the civil service. It is a poisoned chalice, we know, and reforms will be met with strong resistance, we know that, too. Even Chilima’s most ardent supporters have quite often commented how utterly futile and cosmetic his efforts appear to be so far. Nevertheless, it is a job that has to be done. John Magufuli, President of Tanzania, is leading the way by cutting the size and reforming his own service. He is showing us all that it can be done.

Saulosi knows better than most that we need to be globally competitive. No-one will come to open a business in Malawi just because they heard that we have a beautiful lake and a warm, friendly people. If we aren’t organized, cheaper or efficient and better than our competitors then our potential customers and investors will go elsewhere. It’s as simple as that. We can’t be a nation of slackers and still expect to be rewarded for that. Our leaders need to give us tough love–the Magufuli way–in doing the difficult but necessary things if we are going to succeed as a country.

If Saulosi Chilima can demonstrate that he can usher meaningful reforms starting with the civil service, he can use that momentum—and the gains from that—to [secure re-election of the Presidency].

Malawi’s next leader could have been Atupele Muluzi, but his supporters and admirers must feel betrayed that the young man is today eating and sleeping with the enemy while they are out in the cold and not even getting the crumbs.

Lazarus Chakwera could have been another, but the MCP has no clear alternative policies, its president has no political identity and the party has a damaged brand name and reputation to manage.

And in Jessie Kabwila, its spokesperson, the MCP has a big problem.

Far too often, Kabwila has said one thing and the party has had to come and clean after her. She gives the impression that the party she speaks for has no script from which its messages emerge. Or that it doesn’t know how strategic communication should be done.

Of course, the MCP fought a good bout in the last election and came close. But the next election will be fought on real issues, and won’t just be about removing from office a hapless woman who was clearly out of her depth.

 

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boston mlotha
Guest

poor stuff with cheap political propaganda

mphatso
Guest

how I wish Malawi had such patriotic leaders……a President learn something from your neighbor for this is the way to go……poor malawi

griffin
Guest
My insight Magufuli is an exemplary leader Africa should learn lessons from, for example within his thirty days of work he have instructed government institutions not to travel outside the country as a way of minimizing expenditure, he has summoned ministries to cut their celebrations expenditure with 50% and the money be given to the ministry of health,he has laid off half of the state house staff as a means of saving,he is operating without ministers for a month in preparation to have alean cabinet,any corrupt officers are directly fired and he is strengthening civil Servants capacity through un noticed… Read more »
Koma ?????
Guest

ONE of the poorly written article with no proper meat to justify the title!. Where are the lessons from magufuli and what he has done. Shallow article….tell us what Magufuli is doing as some of the lessons learnt for Malawi and just bla bla bla… be explicit dude

Ayobe
Guest
“…there are none so blind as those who do not want to see”. It is clear from the first two paragraphs of the article that the major lessons from Magufuli are that an African government can cut out a lot of executive waste in order to save public funds and be more efficient. But true to DPP pigheadedness you do not want to “see” that reform is possible. This is why come 2019, this DPP government will leave the government much worse off than when they found it in June 2014. Reforms ought to start with APM himself. Why should… Read more »
DOUGER DOUGER
Guest

Pple Who Are Selfish Always Talk Like That ‘we Can Run On Half Civil ..,half…’what A Joke We Are Already 14million And As It Is Ratio Remains 1:200 In Primary So With Ur Half U Wil Solve The Ratio

BMW
Guest

Article wasn’t properly written. No mention has been made of what Magufuli has done. We have to search elsewhere online to know what you’re talking about.

Nyembezi
Guest

Idriss,I don’t see what Magufuli has done. You are not focused enough. Show your readers what Malawi should learn from Tanzania. I don’t anything here. U just bash Chakwera and Kabwila.

Koma Kumeneko
Guest

Munthu wanzeru zake zabwino and ofunila malawi zabwino should see Chakwera as a sulotion to Malawi problems, i wonder anthu mukumatchula mpaka Atupele as next leader? Guys we got to be serious we our nation zibwana zachitika and its enough lets love our nation by chosing a right leader with vision and for now the only man insight is Dr Chakwera. Nanga zikuchitikazi ndizinthu?

Kadakwiza
Guest
This guy called Idrissah Al Nasser I think is not a Malawian. Names like Idrissah mainly comes from Chad. That is why this guy Idrissah Al Nasser don’t know much about our country, Malawi. He is a stranger. let me say, he is a foreigner. Malawi is in this economic mess because because of UDF under the leadership of Bakili Muluzi. Bingu came and made things worse. Come the Professor of all professors Peter Muthalika who made our economy at standstill. Nothing is moving. Running a government is not like selling airtime and Internet bundles at Air tel, No! It’s… Read more »
Chimunthu Banda
Guest

Poor Idriss, you evidently need a physician to treat your miopic eyes. On the other I guess you an idiot being exploited this notorious trinity made up of peter mathanyula, atupere buluzi and mkaladi wa airtel. You mean you are too blind to see the hope of Malawians in Dr. Chakwera? May God sustain you until 2019 so that you see it. you are a miserable zombie idriss ali nassar

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