Timau: Malawi cabinet ministers wake-up!

Cabinet ministers serving in the government of the ruling People’s Party may be panicking with this article but they shouldn’t. This is their moment, their defining moment to know the truth.

Addiction to old school politics is Malawi’s fastest growing problem.

Our ministers instead of articulating their ministries goals or communicating to the Malawian people their achievements have been reduced to praise singers for the President. They are the ones who are bringing shame to the President since they attribute everything to the President hence failure remains with her too.

Here is the point.

President Banda congratulates Brown Mpinfanjira after he was sworn in as minister

President Banda congratulates Brown Mpinfanjira after he was sworn in as minister

In the United Kingdom, immigration is a big issue. Teresa May, the Home Affairs minister, was at one point being forced to resign because of an immigration issue. Never at one point did they mention David Cameron.

The British economy forecast is now 1.5% and yet no one is praising David Cameron but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Here is one newspaper headline: “Boost for Osborne as growth forecast for UK economy is doubled to 1.5% in 2013”.

In Malawi, the radio is awash with ministers competing on how to praise the President.

The following words are not new to our ears, “This project is because of Her Excellency’s sound policy”.

“My ministry is doing well because of Dr Joyce Banda’s policies”.

“…..and it is the wish of Her Excellency that we do abcd”. What a shame!

Role of a cabinet minister

Before our cabinet ministers continue embarrassing themselves let us remind them of what some of their roles are.

  • A cabinet minister is a political appointee who broadly agrees with the policies of his or her party in a specific field of government. This does not make you a praise singer of the party. This is the job of party officials.
  • It is a minister’s job to carry out the functions, tasks and policies decided upon by the party. Now listen, this does not mean ministers should be persecuting the President because of their mistakes, this creates a shield for our ministers because no one takes responsibility. When mistakes are made it looks like the president gave wrong instructions. This should stop.
  • Ministers interpret legislation in a manner which is consistent, coherent, clear and less ambiguous for policy formulation and implementation. Our ministers do not show this. There is a great problem to differentiate between who is a minister and a Regional or district party governor. Their language is all but the same and that is praising the president rather than articulating government policy.
  • Ministers at frequent intervals meet in cabinet meetings and these meetings are chaired by the President, they are aimed at deciding the direction of the government in the light of any legislation passed by parliament. One gets the impression that during these meetings nothing tangible comes out as they just take turns at making the president happy.

Ministers please!! Come up with your policies and show us the results. Take responsibility for your actions do not pass on the buck.

Suggestion

We propose to President Joyce Banda that next time she hires a cabinet she should not rush into swearing them in.

The President should give the hired ministers a week or two so that they draft their plans for their respective ministries based on party policies of cause.

Before swearing in each minister should tell the nation what s/he is going to do within the next six months. This way Malawi will develop as ministers will be working to achieve their intended goals instead of how to praise the President.

This way ministers will know that they will be removed from office if they fail to meet party policy and also their envisioned goals.

Conclusion

We appeal to the President that we want to see maximum output from our ministers. The need to perform is enshrined in their terms and conditions of employment. It is only through minimum snooping from the executive that our ministers will perform. It has worked before and it is still working.

Mwayi Kibaki of Kenya let his ministers’ work freely without interference and Kenya developed. In the UK ministers work and talk freely without David Cameron’s interference and things are moving.

It is only when ministers show their skills that they can resign upon making mistakes.

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