Malawi VP Chilima, private sector in frank talk over reforms

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima on Tuesday engaged the private sector in the commercial capital Blantyre in a frank and straight talk approach as one way of soliciting feedback from the captains of the industry on the public service reforms which he is steering.

Chilima making his points

Chilima making his points

Chilima making his powet-point presentation

Chilima making his powet-point presentation

Chilima addressing captains of the business industry

Chilima addressing captains of the business industry

Chilima assured the private sector that the current efforts to reform the public sector will bear fruits despite several attempts to do so in the past, citing “overflow of political will” this time from the government and President Arthur Peter Mutharika.

The veep and the commissioners engaged the private sector through the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry  (MCCCI) to get feedback on the reforms that the commission announced in December 2014.

“Not changing is not an option. There is clear indication that people want change in the public service. For example we are receiving radical feedback from people out there…like some wanting to have only 18 Principal Secretaries not the 40 we are proposing because we have 18 ministries. This tells us that people out there want change and this is encouraging,” said Chilima.

At the meeting, the Vice President stood for 45 minutes making a power point presentation to the private sector while appealing to them to own the reforms and be part of the process.

“The business of government is not to do business. We want you to come in and own the reforms especially those that are easing the way of doing business. We should not make these reforms a DPP thing but a collective effort with you the private sector being part of it,” he said.

Among other issues, the Vice President spoke of the National Identity scheme which the private sector welcomed, saying it will help the financial sector in identifying customers as well as tracing back those who access loans.

Chilima also shared with the private about the Long Term National Development Plan which will specify the national development agenda so that political parties when they exit and enter government must stick to the plan to ensure continuity.

In his remarks, Chancellor Kaferapanjira of MCCCI hailed the reforms initiative and the strong spirit by the VP and commissioners to ensure delivery this time around.

Kafarapanjira praised the decision to take the private sector on board as well as a number of reforms including the national development plan and the issuance of IDs to Malawians as crucial for the business community.

He however expressed reservations on aligning some offices like the Attorney General to the tenure of the presidency, saying doing so would compromise loyalty and dedication of the appointees.

“Our take is that this will make such positions unstable and loyalty will go to the appointing authority not the people of Malawi,” he said.

The meeting then went into a two hour closed door session where the VP and commissioners further engaged the private sector on a number of concerns and appreciations.

Earlier, Kaferapanjira apologized to the VP on behalf of the business captains who arrived late to the interface. The meeting was scheduled for 8: 30 am, the Vice President arrived at 8: 28 am and waited for close to one hour before everything was set.

The hotel too was caught napping as arrangements had not yet been finalized by 8:30 am.

The Malawi VP is well known for keeping time and has on numerous occasions caused discomfort to organizers after he arrived at the agreed time before they themselves were ready.

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Koma Inu

I totally agree with the truth one from the west. You nailed it straight. The main problem is the political appointment of people to the professional positions. There so many senior public positions filled by people who are not professionals in the fields particularly director and principle secretary positions. These positions need to be filled by qualified professionals in the field they are directing no appointing people because they come from the same area with the vice president or president etc. If the reform does not address this appointment anomaly, we will not yield any good results.

mada nyambo

Chilima thats a way to go.. engaging people in discussions etc. Some may not appreciate it now but they will. We can fail but we will never fail forever.The one who really fails is he who does not try and try again. keep up the good work.


Why discuss public service reforms with private sector before you have achieved buy in from the public servants? How will the private sector be of use in these reforms (unless its in strategies in the effeciency of implementing future cashgates?)!

I rest my case.


All u guys here makes this very interesting but also very educational especially for me who has been outside Malawi for long and I have just been to MW 3 times the past 2 months and learning and see what’s on the ground is contrary and needs hard work beyond soul,passion as well patriotic then we will see Mw we imagine, otherwise we are just as equal as Somalia not in military war but intellectual war, there is just too much political involvement in developing our our country that’s why it is a disaster in the making for the future.

nachos ale

The suggestion by some commentators to have 18 PSs only is big joke. The proposed 40 is good. I should I agree with those who are also doubting on the reforms. The civil service has become inefficient chifukwa cha ma politicians. They interfere too much. Leave it to work following set rules and regulations you will be surprised. I am a retired civil servant of close to 40 years experience.


This reform animal will not work if primitive methods of entrenching politics into Civil Service is going to continue.

Please free the Civil Service and let only politicians in government be ministers.
Appoint Permanent Secretaries to head ministries and they should not be transferred at somebody’s will. Each government coming in should find permanent secretaries in civil service.

This is how a modern govt runs.

Remember the system was changed in 1994 after multiparty.

I even wonder that scholars of govt systems are not commenting on this.



Baba Civil Service is a mess kwina kuli konse pa dziko lapansi. Azungu analephera reform ndiye uyu Chilimayu….just wasting his time.

The Truthful One from the West
The Truthful One from the West
Mr Ziliko you are actually agreeing with me. I am saying that Mr Mangulama never run a Ministry as a PS. In case you do not know a PS running the Ministry of Finance is known as Secretary to the Treasury. Mr Mangulama has never been Secretary to Treasury at any time. As PS for administration in the Ministry of Finance Mr Mangulama was reporting to the Secretary to the Treasury. Mr Mangulama does not have the experience of running a ministry and such a person cannot propose meaningful reforms. As Chilima and the other Commissioners have never worked in… Read more »

So only want this commission to have only those who headed ministries and that experience even at PS level should not count? In my opinion this is a well balanced commission.


My biggest problem with Civil Service is its inability to make decisions. You always hear that a decision will be made when Gevernment is ready, but who is Government? I also think the idea of bringing is people from outside, without public service history totally contravenes the idea of having a civil service.

This is the president we want. Someone who let his vice spear head the change. Someone who can speak less or not speak at all but do or do more at all. Someone who stick to principles even though dogs bark loud. And i mean someone indeed who never get shaken when the weather is windy like this. One thing i like of this leadership is! When its something to do with justice he let the minister of justice speak. When its about finance then you’ll definately see the finance minister’s mouth piece speaking not the HE. What a government.… Read more »

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