State House has backed the provision of Public Relations Officers (PROs) for Ministers and deputy ministers saying the PROs will help in promoting the image of the ministers.
The Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) intends to recruit PROs for ministers and deputy ministers, a departure from a tradition whereby PROs are appointed to serve the ministry and not a minister.
The development has sparked criticism from commentators who view the new arrangemenr as “unnecessary cost” and duplication of efforts
But pesidential press secretary Brian Banda speaking during the weekly briefs at Kamuzu Palace said “there will be no conflict between the PROs in Ministries and those taken on board by Ministers.”
Public Relations Society of Malawi president Lewsis Msasa said “there will be overlaps and duplication let alone confusions.”
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali suggest that “a better approach is to maintain the position of personal assistant, but formally add the duties of PRO under that position.”
In a memo dated October 21, 2020 signed by Secretary for the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) ZangaZanga Chikhosi, he states that in the new arrangement, all ministers will have personal-to-holder PROs who will only serve as long as the minister is in Cabinet.
The OPC has since asked ministers to choose a person to fill this position.
Department of Human Resource Management and Development, which is copied in the communication, has been asked to prepare contracts for these new officers. The PRO will assume a grade lower than the ministers’ personal assistants who are on Grade G.