“The President and his government must be interested in the health of the economy. Any leader who is not interested in the health of the economy gets overthrown by the economy itself.” -Sam Mpasu, former Malawi Parliament’s Speaker
In a move that scoffs at President Peter Mutharika’s government’s own Public Service Reforms recommendation to trim principal secretaries (PSs); Chief Secretary to the Government, Mr George Mkondiwa has been given a new three-year contract.
The new contract will see him at the helm of civil service up to 2018, approximately 1,095 days past his “sell-by date”.
As if to rub in the insult on Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima, the man who was chairing the Public Service Reforms; high level informants have confided that as per the Chief Secretary’s top-secret new contract, his perks are now at par with those of the Vice President.
In its report, the Public Service Reforms Commission made several recommendations after noting that the civil service’s 96 PSs against 20 Cabinet portfolios made little or no sense.
Verbatim, the recommendation reads:
“The rightsizing in the number of principal secretaries [PSs] by fifty-six  from the current ninety-six  to forty  by deleting irrelevant portfolios, deploying some PSs and exiting those that may not be required within the system.”
The commission also recommended that a decent one-off exit package should be offered to PSs and an examination of the entire civil service to determine the total structure and delete all irrelevant positions in order to develop a lean and vibrant organisation.
An elephant in the room?
The renewal of Mkondiwa’s contract, who was expected to leave office by November 25, 2015 when he attains 60 years of age (government’s mandatory retirement age); raises questions and casts a huge shadow on the much touted Saulos Chilima Reforms.
With this development, it is clear that the so called reforms are yet another decoy to be selectively applied and possibly used to victimize those deemed not to be “blue” enough, while zealots that are blue to the tooth are being awarded, in the name of reform, golden parachutes and gorgeous life lines to escape the bite of the reforms.
In the light of Mr Mkondiwa’s immunity from the sting of the reforms, the recommendation made by the Chilima Committee that PSs that have reached or about to reach the mandatory retirement age of 60 should be encouraged to retire early, was not worth the paper it was written on.
Further, I can dare submit that the entire reform exercise was just an expensive exercise in futility.
Spinning in vain:
While we are talking about futility, according to the Nation, Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango argued that Mkondiwa was yet to reach mandatory retirement age of 60.
The Nation has since established that Mkondiwa was, in fact, born on November 25 1955, and will be 60 years on the same date this year.
Therefore, he should have been high if not the first on the list of those offered “a decent one-off exit package” – whatever Chilima and his crew meant by that.
In other words, Mkondiwa was supposed to have retired by now. And at any rate, apart from reaching the mandatory age, the Chief Secretary has a large number of accumulated leave days meaning that he could go even now so that new and younger blood run the sinking ship called Malawi Public Service.
Mkondiwa ‘thicker’ than Chilima?
According to well-placed sources, Mkondiwa’s perks in the new contract have been heftily revised upwards, and his take-home package, at the end of his new contract,will place him at par with the Vice President’s retirement package.
Mr George Mkondiwa, Malawi’s top civil servant will cart home a princely package only due to former vice presidents.
If this is the “business unusual approach” that Pres Peter Mutharika promised upon taking office, then Malawi is under a “business absurd” regime!
Let me add that before the government spin doctors refute this, theyshould make the contents of the Chief Secretary’s contract open; so that the public can compare it with the Vice President’s package.
It goes without saying that empty refutations will not suffice on this one and table-banging antics appropriate for five year olds will only attract the ridicule they deserve.
Riddles and parables?
While it is a fact that Malawi has gone to the dogs under the current regime, one would have expected even the most hopeless of regimes to play and abide by its own rules.
If the Public Service Reforms exempt the Chief Secretary, why should the other 96 or so Principal Secretaries suffer?
Are they less Malawian than Mr Mkondiwa?
Again, equating the perks of the Chief Secretary to those of the Vice President is bound to send wrong signals and is, in the least, demeaning to the Constitutional Office of the Vice President and sets a wrong precedent.
When will the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) learn? Has it not gone down this road before only to end up in hell?Can it be that Pres Peter Mutharika is “speaking” in riddles and parables to Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima?
This, is for Dr. Saulos Chilima to solve.
To wrap up, anyone taking these so called “reforms” seriously has another think coming. For their own good, I would advise them to have their sanity checked.
Look at this: in addition to the shady contract renewal of Mr George Mkondiwa, the so-called reduction of PS’s is not authentic at all.
What the Mutharika government is doing is merely altering the titles of the PS’s that were supposed to be terminated, from PS to Chief/Senior Director, without any change in substance, packages and influence.
Hence, the bottom line is that the head count in the upper echelons is the same as before. Malawi on course to reform? If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!
Malawi under “transformational leadership”? You might as well try to convince me that you saw pigs flying and expect me to believe this crap.
Pres Peter Mutharika’s miserable attempt to reform the public service is at best, just an inconsequential horse-trading manoeuvre, that cannot deliver value for money to the tax-payer, and at worst, it is that card trick known as “wachiwona ndani?” in the vernacular.
Mapeto ake, tikuwombedwapo apa. How?Having and retaining people on government payroll when all they do is sit around playing bawo and scratching their backs during work hours is also a form of cash-gate.
No wonder service delivery is zero, the government has become overly defensive and as Sam Mpasu aptly put it, the economic turmoil may soon “overthrow” Mutharika.
My recommendation is: the over-aged, redundant and unproductive PSs must go, whether they are blue or not.
This is the sort of public service reform Malawi needs.
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