President Lazarus Chakwera has put all controlling officers for all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies on notice that if they do not perform productively by the end of the year, they will be fired.
Chakwera made the warning on a special address to the nation on Thursday by laying bare his personal anguish following the mass leakage of this year’s Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) papers as he ordered the firing of top management for the country’s exam body, Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB), among other things.
Said Chakwera: “I stand before you in a state of anguish. The anguish I feel is the same that is felt by all of you regarding the pace of executing our collective agreement to clear the rubble from our governance system in order to refurnish it for the task of building a new Malawi.
“In short, I share your vexation at the lack of movement in the new direction I set for us when I took office four months ago.”
Chakwera maintained his commitment to “clear the rubble” from the governance system, saying is something that is not only a functional necessity, but also a matter of national urgency.
He said the necessity and urgency of clearing the rubble is now plain to see from the chaos that has recently ensued at Maneb.
“To have several secondary school exam papers leaked and the education of hundreds of thousands of students thrown off course is simply unacceptable. Whatever the motives, this is clearly a deliberate act occasioned by elements of criminality, impunity, and negligence that cannot be allowed to continue,” said Chakwera visible furious.
Chakwera warned that if any Ministry, Department, or Agency that has the “rubble of criminal elements” that does not produce a corrective action plan by the end of this month, he will have “no choice but to remove those in charge and find people who will get the job done.”
The President said clearing the rubble means removing from state institutions those whose recruitment into public office did not comply with set procedures and regulations.
“Historically, such people found their way into public offices through political interference. This is probably the biggest rubble we have, especially in MDAs and other governance institutions. That is why I have been systematically assessing the controlling officers in these places to make the necessary changes.
“While a good number of Secretaries and Directors that fit into this category of improperly recruited rubble have already been removed and replaced, I can assure you that that work will continue for some time,” he said.
The Malawi leader said clearing the rubble means removing from the governance institutions those who have evidence against them of abuse of public office.
“Historically, this has happened in parastatals where office bearers have been abusing their public position either to advance personal interests or the interests of a political party. To set the stage for the clearing of this rubble of abuse of office, I suspended the boards of all parastatals within my first two weeks in office and ensured they were replaced within the first 100 days. It is therefore the job of each board to comb through its parastatal and identify this kind of partisan rubble and clear it,” said Chakwera.
President Chakwera further said another kind of rubble includes those in the governance institutions who are either incompetent or negligent of their duties.
“The Malawian people cannot be expected to keep paying through the nose to sustain the salaries and allowances of people who either sit around government offices doing nothing except drinking tea and gossiping or who do substandard work and have a substandard attitude towards the Malawians they serve and the service they provide.
“Incompetence and negligence are a cancer within the public service, and I expect controlling officers across the board to make the restoration of professionalism and hard work a top priority within their section. In some cases, this means relocating incompetent and negligent workers to other areas where they will be more useful or less harmful. In other cases, this means retraining staff to a new approach that upholds the highest standards of service to Malawians,” said the President.
He said in some sections, there is a need to come up with new policies and procedures to make the public service an environment where time-wasting and mediocrity are minimal.
“Those who tolerate mediocrity will themselves not be tolerated. We must set high standards and enforce them with respect, yet without apology,” he said.
Chakwera said he expects all the newly appointed Ministers, parastatal boards, as well as the entire public service to be mindful that Malawians voted for radical change and “have no appetite for nonchalance from any of us.”
The President said since he was elected in the court sanctioned fresh presidential election on June 23, he has been “nauseated” by the number of people in the public service who have just carried on their business as usual, resisting change on the pretext that their approach is how government works.
“As far as I am concerned, this mindset shows zero respect for the will of Malawians who gave this President the mandate to bring sanity into government precisely because how government works has not been working. I am therefore putting all controlling officers for all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies on notice: If by the end of this year, I find that you have not brought the affairs and people you oversee under control, or have not controlled your appetite for spending on things that add no value to Malawians, or have not increased your productivity, or are not enforcing the highest standards of work ethics, or have not depoliticised your approach to service, or are not implementing the policies Malawians mandated me to put into effect within your section, I will find someone else to do the job.
“I will not entertain any excuses, because my interest is not sustaining your inefficient and wasteful ways of doing things. This is the new Malawi, and in this country, no one will be allowed to continue wasting time and resources on activities that produce no tangible results. You either get with the new program or get out of the way,” said the Malawi leader.
Chakwera swept into office on a wave of campaign promises of clean government and the creation of a million jobs and instituting a National Youth Service. He has been battling to keep to his programme in the face of disastrous economic indicators.
President Chakwera defeated Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who had become increasingly unpopular and weighed down with accusations of corruption, while Chakwera and his running mate Saulos Chilima offered an alternative, more inclusive and honestly run Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :