This is one of those rare occasions that the Muckraker doffs his hat to the Mutharika administration. From our Civics of old (are they calling it ‘Social Studies’ these days?) we were told ‘Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
Ideally, although unfortunately it does not happen often, a democratic government has to do the citizenry’s bidding. ‘Servant leadership’, they tantalisingly call it.
It was, therefore, a breath of fresh air to note that the Mutharika administration has bowed down to public pressure not to go ahead aligning certain public positions to the tenure of the President. That, as many a commentator told the Public Reform Commission, would be legitimising and entrenching political interference in public service. It would militate against the very reform agenda.
It is, therefore, a positive sign that government has seen reason and decided to ‘pend’ the proposal for, as Vice President Saulos Chilima put it, further consultations. But I would like to propose that do not even consider ‘pending’ such a ‘counter reform’ proposal; ‘shelve’ it altogether for such a proposal defeats the very essence of reforms.
By the way, the President talked highly about his decision to trim some of the presidential powers. Chief among them is the power to appoint certain officers in the public service. These officers include Principal Secretaries and certain cadres in certain grades in government.
That, I must say, is a bold – if not brave – move.
But perhaps while that may still have to await relevant legislation, the President should check against abusing powers that he currently does not even have. For example, the President does not have the powers to fire MACRA, MRA or MBC bosses. Only boards of these parastatals can.
But Peter fired them still. (Well, the polite term used was he ‘redeployed’ them within the public service.) But even the word ‘redeploy’ does not appear anywhere in his powers as regards these positions. In law they say he acted ultra vires.
So, perhaps, before regularising the trimming of his powers, let the President start respecting the powers he currently has.
While we are still on existing laws, I think the Judiciary is one area that needs serious reform. Look at the courts, for instance; they seem to operate in a vacuum. A case can start today and be adjourned almost forever. You may hear of it again whenever it pleases their lord- or ladyships.
And yet laws are that constitutional matters must be heard within 21 days, commercial ones within 60 days. There is, for instance, a constitutional matter commenced by Friday Jumbe and Humphrey Mvula in 2005 but judgement was only handed down in 2014, almost ten years later!
Let us reform the justice system or the oft repeated saying of ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ will become so hackneyed it will become an insult.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :