Malawian citizen Rhodrick Junaid Kalumpha has asked Secretary to the President & Cabinet (SPC), Colleen Zamba to order civil servants — from Ministers; Principal Secretaries to junior officers — to be using government email addresses rather that private ones for official business communications.
Writing on his Facebook page, Kalumpha was incredulous at this tendency, saying: “It is so embarrassing to see Malawi government officials giving emails such as ‘[email protected]
“If you go to Govt departments, you will see them exchanging official documents on Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Who does that in this day and age? You mean we are so poor to even have [government] email addresses?”
Kalumpha, who also said the order should include staff in embassies as well as district councils across the country, went on to warn that “the use of private emails is partly to blame for the high level of graft” in the country.
“All the thieving that takes place is partly due to private email use. You have a Minister giving an investor a private email to send top level information! Please ban use of private emails.
“Everyone, including messengers, must use official Govt emails. Those found to use private mails must be punished,” he said.
Immediately, several other citizens of goodwill agreed with Kalumpha, with one — trending as Sketch King Arts saying: “This other time, I thought it’s a yahoo-yahoo boy — yet it was a Govt official indeed. How are we going to differentiate between scammers and govt officials. This is so lame.”
Also in support was Ahmad Milazi, who added that “the sad part is that it’s there in the government IT policy but enforcement is what is lacking”.
Trooper Thindwa added credence by giving an example of former US First Lady, Hillary Clinton, who later served in government that a leaked email address almost brought her down politically.
Manyika Grace advised that the use of private emails can derail the fight against corruption, saying it would be difficult to do “audit trails of what was done, said and by whom”.
“How is [Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General] Martha Chizuma investigating government transactions communicated via private emails? Is this not abuse of office and fraud by using government property for personal use?
“I wonder why the people entrusted to look into government systems and corruption don’t take this as a problem and have never raised it as an issue.”
She thus added credence by asking Chizuma, Zamba, Vice-President Saulos Chilima — in his task of reviewing government practices — as well as Minister of Information & Digitalisation and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Director General Daud (as custodians of communications) — to seriously look into this issues.
She observed that at the recent anti-corruption conference, “none of this came up. Stopping private emails will eliminate more than half the problem”.
She thus pleaded with the public to draft a petition to Chizuma and Zamba, saying “if they mean business, they will do something about it. Seeing private emails when dealing with government officials or on government business cards is nauseating and begins to raise red flags immediately.
“Printing private emails on government property is fraudulent and is an authorised corruption,” she said.
Wati Mkandawire joined the debate, saying the discussion and advice on private emails started in 1995 or thereabouts, saying: “Kids that were born when we started this discussion have children and are using Yahoo and Hotmail whilst working in the same government.
“The moral of the story is: Malawi Government is so transparent and has no secrets or confidential material to hide. Open Government — nothing classified, as others would say, so help me Yahoo.”
This all comes after a memo from Zamba written on August 10 censuring all principal secretaries and heads of department on substandard cabinet paper submissions, that include poor presentation of issues, illegible fonts and grammatical errors.
She also singled out the top government’s officials’ lack of adherence to stipulated guidelines and submission deadlines, saying from now on, they all must present Cabinet submissions that are always of “high quality and beyond reproach — because they form basis for Cabinet decisions, action minutes and consequently government records”.
“I, therefore, remind you all to always work with Cabinet Office when developing Cabinet papers and policy documents before they are formally submitted to Cabinet and relevant Cabinet committees for consideration.”
To ensure consistency and legibility, Zamba further advised the top government officers to use Arial font size 14 and single spacing in all Cabinet documents.
While assuring them that her office “remains committed to ensure Cabinet submissions are of high standard and quality”, Zamba went further to warn them that “any substandard submissions will be rejected and sent back”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :