Civil society organisations from the northern region have bemoaned government’s lack of meaningful engagement with citizens and civil stakeholders in the implementation of the public sector reforms processes arguably contributing to policy accountability queries.
Following the dwindling in service delivery in public offices, the government of Malawi instituted a Commission headed by the Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima to oversee changes that will help improve service delivery and the image of the public sector.
But from the onset of the reform programme, several CSOs have been expressing displeasure with how the government is handling the reforms, claiming that citizens and other stakeholders are not being consulted.
This was revealed in Mzuzu during a dialogue meeting on public sector reforms between civil society institutions and the Public Reforms Commission secretariat that the Youth and Society (YAS) jointly organized with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR).
During the deliberations, which drew various people from different disciplines, several CSO leaders bemoaned government’s tendency of side-lining crucial players in projects that are of national importance. They claim that usually, the government views CSOs as enemies; a situation that is counterproductive to the country’s progression.
According to Sydney Simwaka chairperson of the Chitipa Civil society network, government has side-lined CSO’s a thing he thinks would affect implementation since they have less information to relay to the public which can be of great use to see that the reforms take shape.
Simwaka said unless CSO’s are included in the implementation of the reforms, the whole idea of improving service provision in the public service sector will remain a fallacy.
Echoing Simwaka was Steven Potani the regional educational coordinator at World Vision who predicted that the reforms program will be a failure unless all stakeholders are widely consulted and included.
Potani observed that involving CSO’s will create a platform through which CSO’s will act as watch dogs who will ensure that what is put on paper is what is actually happening on the ground.
On his part, director of the Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod, Moses Mkandawire challenged the civil society in Malawi to restore its watchdog role and hold government accountable on its policies arguing the current state of civil society leaves a lot to be desired.
Among other areas, stakeholders recommended increased participation of citizens in the reform processes, increased efforts to uproot corruption and nepotism, increasing the country tax base to finance public service.
According to Charles Kajoloweka, executive director of the Youth and Society, the meeting aimed at providing platform for dialogue, engagement, understanding and knowledge sharing on Public Sector Reforms between Civil Society Actors (CSAs) and the PublicService Reform Commission.
Kajoloweka said through the meeting they hope to establish and strengthen a working relationship between civil society actors in the region and the Public Sector Reforms Commission on public reforms so that the citizenry benefit from the said reforms and has therefore vowed to continue engaging relevant stakeholders on any rising issues regarding the reforms.
“It is our conviction that this engagement set an important platform for various stakeholders and citizens to contribute to the success of the reform program. It was an opportunity for civil society and government to build strong partnership in transforming our public sector.
“ As a civil society actor, we pledge to collaborate and support the government in transforming the public sector, by among other roles, strengthening our watchdog obligation in the reform processes”, he said.
But responding to the concerns raised throughout the meeting, Chief Director for the public service sector reforms Nuwazi Nthambala said her office will seriously look into the concerns that were raised during the stakeholders meeting and has pleaded with the CSO’s to help in spreading messages of the reforms so that the public should ably understand the whole idea why government is reforming operations in its ministry’s and departments.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :