Barely a few hours after State Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima has presented a report on the Public Sector Systems Review to State President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace on Friday, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has demanded that its contents be made public.
Led by its national chairperson Gift Trapence, national coordinator Luke Tembo and regional coordinators, the coalition states that Public Sector Reform is long overdue process and Malawians have always believed it to be one of the areas that needed an overhaul in a bid to transform the civil service in terms of performance, maladministration and curbing corruption.
Their demand is contained in a statement the grouping issued on Friday shortly after Chilima had presented the report to Chakwera.
“Our demand is that this report should be made public to ensure that every Malawian has access to it, should they need to,” states the letter in part.
The firebrand human rights activists emphasize that while it is celebrating the bold decision the Tonse Alliance administration has undertaken to reform the public service, they are disappointed by the privacy surrounding the presentation of ‘this highly-anticipated report to President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace’.
They say it is their considered view that the presentation of the report on the review of government systems should have been a public event to allow every one, as stakeholders in the government, to be able to follow and understand the process and outcomes.
“Our call for accountability and transparency is based on the fact that only when these outcomes and recommendations are made public will Malawians be able to fully adopt and embrace them. For us, at HRDC, public reform needs a multisectoral approach, including the active participation of citizens. It needs the input of different stakeholders so that they are able to take part in the monitoring and implementation of the roadmap,” says Trapence and his team.
They argue that citizens, who are the taxpayers, can only appreciate the importance of this report if it is made public, stressing that the nature of the secrecy in unveiling the report today raises all manner of questions and one tends to wonder what the Presidency is seeking to achieve.
“The government needs to learn that it is only by allowing a level of transparency that they will have the full support of the citizens. We take the liberty to remind the Presidency that access to information is now a public right as per section 37 of the Constitution as read with the Access to Information Act No. 17 of 2017,” thus concludes HRDC.
There was no immediate comment from the State House.