Some Malawians, especially on social media, have come out to welcome President Lazarus Chakwera’s choice of people to run 67 parastatal boards of the country.
On Wednesday, Chakwera—through Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi—released names of board of directors after a continued cry from the general public with the delay.
Unlike in previous regime where chiefs, ex-politicians, party zealots and handclapers would take up the lead in all the boards, Chakwera’s choice has refreshed the country as his list is defined with an encouraging composition of professionals, technocrats, academics and a fair gender balance.
Among the renowned people on list include academicians such as Professor Blessings Chinsinga, Dr Boniface Dulani, and Dr Sunduzwayo Madise. Also in the selection includes researcher Dr Henry Chingaipe.
Another notable feature is that all Universities, save for Mzuzu University, are being chaired by former academics—mostly professors.
Writing on his social media page, former journalist working as a diplomat at Malawi High Commission in London, Kondwani Munthali waxed lyrical of the selection, saying: “On the boards, its mixed bag, something expected of an alliance administration. I am happy with technocrats and ok rewarding loyalists. Seen all parties included!”
Another commentator wrote: “The list of people on Board of directors looks impressive. Much than the cabinet one!”
However, taking a different route, social media commentator Onjezani Kenani congratulated people who have made it various with a word of caution.
He wrote: “Congratulations to the new boards, and specifically to all friends who have been appointed to them.
“The generational takeover is evident. I hope, however, that the change of generation will also mean a change in the way we do things. When I worked for a parastatal, my conclusion was that board members are interested only in allowances.
“Once, when a grandfather of a board member died, the entire board asked us to give them sitting allowances to attend the funeral.
“I tried blocking the payment, then got a call from the responsible cabinet minister. “I hear you are blocking the sitting allowances to board members?” I said, “Yes.” “Pay them.”
“That was the order, and we had no choice but to pay. If you look back over the last 56 years, our statutory corporations have been decaying slowly because of this. Boards want to milk them.
“Members of Parliament serving in different committees want to milk them. Political parties in power want to milk them. Who is there to build them?” he said.
On his take, governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that there is a combination of “competence or expertise and reward for patronage.”
He said the overall picture shows that the Board is an “improved version” as compared to the previous boards, and perhaps that’s why it has brought some public excitement.
“It certainly cannot be said to be the best or perfect board but something that we can build on moving forward. : It’s good that in this board there is no domination of traditional leaders being chairpersons of boards typical of DPP era,” he said.
However, Munthali noted that there is inconsistency in terms of gender inclusion in order to meet minimum standards as provided by Gender Equality Act.
“There we go again. A fragrant breach of the law as laid down in the gender equality Act. In some of the boards there is zero representation of women, while in some there is women representation but not meeting the 40/60 threshold. Only in a few boards where the 40/60 threshold has been met. The law continues to be breached. What next?”
Nonetheless, Munthali said political will and non-executive political interference will be key towards ensuring that these boards turn around things in their respective parastatals.
“It is not enough to have boards with qualified and competent professionals. The Tonse alliance government should provide a conducive environment for these parastatals by avoiding political interference in the way the boards discharge their duties,” he said.
Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, said the president has appointed the right people on the board that agree to Tonse administration agendas.
“As an alliance government, we want to have people that agree to Tonse administration agendas. This time around we are not going to give positions on appeasement but rather we are looking at qualifications and experience among others,” Kazako said.
Other notable faces in the boards, in various positions, include former first lady Callista Bingu w Mutharika , UTM Party director of youth Bon Kalindo as board members, lawyer Justine Dzonzi, Khwesi Msusa, Dr Sosten Chiotha, Dr Mwapatsa Mipando and Khama Matumbi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :