Gotani Hara says poor public service delivery is a serious violation of human rights

Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara, has described poor public service delivery as a serious violation of human and people’s rights.

Hara has since committed to taking personal action to engage her fellow parliamentarians on how they can provide effective oversight role  to the Executive to safeguard the legal duty of the government in respecting, protecting and fulfilling people’s human rights through effective and gender responsive pubic service provision.

Gotani Hara–It’s that austerity cuts have blocked the recruitment of public workers such as nurses, teachers, agriculture extension workers–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The Speaker made the remarks in Lilongwe today during the high-level breakfast engagement session on “Austerity versus Gender Responsive Public Services.”

The discussion was informed by results of a recent study that ActionAid Malawi commissioned with support from Feminist Macro-Economic Alliance (FEAM) and other stakeholders focusing on how public wage bill restraints adopted and implemented by the Government of Malawi have affected the delivery of public services and public service management in the country.

The study was conducted between July 2021 to January 2022. Over 40 representatives of civil society organizations and key stakeholders from Parliament, Ministries of Finance, Education, Health, Agriculture and Gender as well as the Reserve Bank of Malawi and International Financial Institutions attended the event.

A cross-section of CSO leaders that attended the event–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

In her remarks, Gotani observed that public services are at the core of democratic societies founded on human rights, the rule of law and social solidarity and that poor public service delivery results in serious violations of people’s rights.

“And what the findings shared today have revealed is important. It is indeed sad to note how austerity cuts in Malawi have blocked the recruitment of public workers including nurses, teachers, agriculture extension workers and other essential public sector workers.  This shows how deeply  Public Sector Wage Bill (PSWB) restraints results in serious violations of human rights for citizens,” she said.

She said as a leader of the National Assembly, she understands how important human rights are and that human rights are the law and are the rulebook on States’ obligation on their citizens.

Gotani therefore commended ActionAid, FEAM and other partners for hosting the engagement, which she said was important in discussing issues that would help in strengthening public service sector.

Mwaisimba–The report reinforces FEAM Alliance call and push for inclusive and gender transformative economies–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

“This includes ensuring that Malawi Government makes right macro-economic policy choices and decisions that can enhance realization of human rights particularly for girls, women and other vulnerable groups,” said the Speaker.

Acting Country Director of ActionAid Malawi, Rodney Mwaisimba, said PSWB restraints are part of a wider package of austerity and reductions in government spending that have had negative impacts on agriculture, education, and health where, and coupled with other neoliberal reforms and policies, have conspired against progress.

Mwaisimba said it is for this reason that ActionAid Malawi and partners support the launch of national report on ‘The Public Versus Austerity’, which reinforces Feminist Macro- Economic Alliance call and push for inclusive and gender transformative economies, with a strong feminist approach in the delivery of public services in health, education, and agriculture sectors.

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