Today, I have held interface meetings with the Minister of Homeland Security, Hon. Richard Chimwendo Banda, Minister of Local Government, Hon. Lingson Belekanyama and Minister of Justice, Hon. Titus Mvalo on the progress of reforms and proposed new areas of reform in their ministries.
I have observed that some departments in the Ministry of Homeland Security have excellent reform areas that could contribute to revenue generation while also improving service delivery.
These include plans by the Malawi Police Service to establish a commercial driving school which will generate revenue as well as contribute to road safety by training drivers. Meanwhile, the Malawi Prison Service’s agriculture programme is feeding over 13,000 inmates for five months and has the capacity to generate income as well if supported. We will step in to enhance this initiative so that in the long run prisons will be able to feed themselves without always relying on Treasury.
During the meeting, I also emphasized that at the heart of reforms in the Police service, should be to rebuild confidence and mend relations with the public to gain the lost trust from the citizenry. I also emphasized that the administration of His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is committed to construct houses for security officers and that works must start as soon as possible.
As way forward, I will continue discussions with the Department of Immigration on passports, Malawi Police Services on several security issues as well as with the National Registration Bureau that require serious attention.
MINISTRY OF LOCAL DEVELOPMENT and RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Later I engaged the Minister of Local Development and Rural Development Hon. Lingson Belekanyama and Deputy Minister Hon. Halima Daud as well as officials from the ministry.
From the start, it was encouraging that apart from improving service delivery, the reforms that the ministry is embarking on also aim to eliminate dual administration, efficient and effective management of payroll as well as improved human resource processes at council level. All these prospective outcomes auger well with the ministry’s mandate which is to promote local governance and coordinate development interventions at local councils.
However, much as the ministry is on track on a number of reforms, I have suggested to the ministry to consider reviewing the honoraria that is given to chiefs. I maintain my stand that it is an insult to pay someone K2,500 or K5,000. Moreover, they have to travel long distances to access that money from the banks.
On the overall status of decentralizing some functions from Capital Hill to local councils, the ministry complained that some ministries – 22 years after the decision to decentralize was made –are still resisting especially those handling various multi-million kwacha projects in councils. I have requested a list of such ministries so that we should have a serious discussion with them. As a country we should be able to move on once we make decisions.
Going forward, we will have a roadmap with the ministry so that we are able to track progress on what is being achieved especially on empowering local councils so that they are able to champion development projects at district levels.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
The third engagement of the day was with Hon. Titus Mvalo, Minister of Justice and his team from the ministry. The ministry reported progress on a number of reforms that touch on the welfare of Malawians as well as facilitating ease of doing business to enhance economic growth.
The Malawi Business Registration System is a crucial component that will drive economic growth in the country but also aid in investigation and prosecution of corruption and money laundering cases. This system must be revitalised as soon as possible.
I fully support the reform to create an autonomous Registrar General. Having its own building will also go a long way in freeing up resources used on rentals. I will be happy to reengage the ministry on bills that they would like to present to the cabinet. Of special interest to me is the Public Service Bill which must go back to Parliament. It is an important bill that will revolutionise the public service and make it competitive.
However, it is sad to note that the ministry continues to suffer from a high retention rate of staff. I have requested the ministry to consider innovative ways of retaining lawyers so that the belief that the government does not defend or appeal cases should be a thing of the past.
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