Details of policy priority areas

  1. Policy Priority Area 1: Public Service Management Reforms
    An efficient and effective public service is crucial for the delivery of quality public goods and services and achievement of strategic developmental goals that can transform a country. This is achieved with consistent application of appropriate and effective public service management policies and practices.

    Problem Statement
    The current performance of the Malawi public service is not at a level that it can be responsive to the needs of the public and effectively facilitate achievement of the MGDS III goals, because of weak public service management policies and practices. The public service is currently being guided by legislation and policies, which are not harmonised. Some of the legislation and policies are out-dated to the extent that they cannot support public sector transformation, efficiency and effectiveness. The public sector also has some governance challenges, particularly in relation to strategic leadership; financial stewardship and prudence; the silo approach of MDAs and lack of collaboration with non-state actors and; inadequate transparency and accountability which undermines focus on results and prudent utilisation of resources. Lack of performance culture and challenges in implementing an integrated performance management system; weak human resource management infrastructure and; poor work ethics also undermine public sector effectiveness.

    The interface between political leaders and technical/administrative leaders for good public sector governance and achievement of strategic outcomes also needs improvements. There are perceptions that there is political interference in appointments and technical decisions, which undermine effectiveness of public sector institutions.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Improve public service management, governance and performance through
      • Harmonisation of legislation and policies to support public sector modernisation and transformation.
      • Institutionalisation of good governance principles and performance management in the public service.

    Strategies
    Harmonisation of legislation and policies

    1. Review the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi to provide a conducive environment for public service transformation.
    2. Review the public Service Act to align it to the 2017 Public Service Management Policy as well as this policy.
    3. Review other relevant legislation and policies that guide public service management and align them with the reviewed Public Service Act.

    Good Governance and Performance Management

    1. Align resources to the service delivery and MGDS III priorities.
    2. Improve inter-ministerial and multi-sectoral collaboration in the delivery of services and implementation of government policies, programmes and reforms.
    3. Ensure adherence to the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act and relevant financial management and procurement regulations in all MDAs
    4. Strengthen the role of the Office of the Director of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets in monitoring procurement processes in public institutions, including adherence to price guidelines.
    5. Revitalise the human resource planning and development functions in the public service.
    6. Improve stewardship and utilisation of public resources.
    7. Enhance utilisation of ICT to improve service delivery.
    8. Implement a strategic and integrated performance management system.
    9. Develop strategic leadership capacity at all levels to support implementation of government policies, programmes and the reform agenda.
    10. Put in place measures aimed at institutionalising ethics, integrity and accountability in all public institutions.
  2. Policy Priority Area 2: Decentralisation Reforms
    The Decentralisation Policy and Act of 1998, require MDAs to devolve authority, responsibilities, functions and resources to local authorities. The policy also requires the phasing out of the parallel de-concentrated structures at district level.

    Problem Statement
    Despite the intents in the Decentralisation Policy and Act devolution in Malawi has been slow and partial, with a dual system of devolution and de-concentration still operating at district level. Local authorities also lack the capacity in terms of human resources, finances and competences to be effective, which is the justification some central government ministries use to delay the devolution process. As a result the benefits of devolution are not being fully realised.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Implement local government reforms in line with the Decentralisation Policy to strengthen local governance and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities in service delivery and implementation of local development projects and programmes.

    Strategies

    1. Complete the devolution process in line with the Decentralisation Policy and Decentralisation Act.
    2. Formulate and implement comprehensive decentralisation reforms to support devolution; enhance local governance and; strengthen capacity of local authorities to effectively discharge their functions.
    3. Develop capacity of the ministry responsible for local government to effectively manage and support the devolution process.
  3. Policy Priority Area 3:Institutional Restructuring

    Institutional restructuring in the public service is crucial for ensuring that the public sector only has institutions with appropriate structures that it requires to effectively deliver services and implement the national development agenda.

    Problem Statement
    The Malawi public sector is not necessarily large in relation to the demands of the national development agenda and service delivery requirements. However, the challenges it faces are that it is not properly aligned to the priorities in the MGDS III and service delivery demands. It is, therefore, not clear whether the mandates and operations of all public institutions are strategic to the achievement of key government outcomes. In addition, the civil service lacks adequate numbers of people with knowledge and skills that are core to the delivery of key services and implementation of the MGDS III. The civil service has a number of non-core staff including administrative and support staff and it is not clear whether all of them are required. Furthermore, it is not clear whether all the employees in the civil service are optimally utilised to contribute to the strategic results of MDAs.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Restructure the Public Service to make it fit for purpose to implement MGDS III and deliver services that are key to achievement of the MGDS III outcomes.

    Strategies

    1. Align the public service structure and size to the national vision and the MGDS III.
    2. Amend the Public Service Act to provide for the maximum number of Ministries per each five-year medium term development strategy.
  4. Policy Priority Area 4: Recapitalisation and Performance of Statutory Corporations
    There are a number of statutory corporations in Malawi, which were created as public organisations to deliver some commercial and social objectives on behalf of government. These are crucial for raising revenue for government and for transforming the economy because they provide essential services such as utilities (water and electricity), telecommunications and transport (air, rail, roads). The services and infrastructure provided by statutory corporations are crucial for stimulating and supporting private sector development and consequently for catalysing development.

    Problem Statement
    The performance of most statutory corporations is below the expected standards due to, among other things, under-capitalisation, dependency on subventions from government, obsolete infrastructure, large and unsustainable debts, challenges in collecting debts particularly from government departments and poor corporate governance due to political interference among other things. The government remains concerned with the governance of statutory corporations in that the management, transparency and accountability of some parastatals is below par. There are perceptions that recruitment to senior management positions and Boards is politicised, which undermines strategic leadership and performance of these entities. Most of these entities make losses and are generally poor performers in the delivery of infrastructure and services, are a drain of public resources and slow down development.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Implement comprehensive reforms to support recapitalisation, improve overall performance of statutory corporations, to reduce their dependence on government subventions and enhance their contribution to the MGDS III.

    Strategies

    1. Recapitalise strategic statutory corporations through various strategies such as Treasury Funding, Joint ventures, PPP and FDI in order to improve their performance in relation to investment in infrastructure, service delivery, revenue generation and fulfilling their business and social obligations.
    2. Reform policies and legal frameworks to support improvements in the operation of statutory corporations as effective entities with social obligations.
    3. Improve governance of statutory corporations a pre-requisite for investors to get attracted to invest in statutory corporations and for their performance to improve.
  5. Policy Priority Area 5: Programming
    Game changing programmes are crucial for infusing novel ideas and approaches that transform the way things are done to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector. They include programmes that catalyse change and stimulate other changes that are crucial for service delivery improvements and achievement of strategic outcomes in the MGDS III.

    Problem Statement
    Most public sector organisations have been implementing policies and programmes using the “business as usual” approach, which does not allow for innovation and promotes maintenance of the status quo. Traditional approaches to programme implementation and service delivery have had minimal impact on development outcomes and this calls for game changing programmes.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Implement innovative programmes using “the business unusual” approaches to improve service delivery and catalyse the changes that are necessary for achievement of strategic outcomes in the MGDS III.

    Strategies

    1. Enhance the use of modern technology notably Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in public sector institutions to make services more accessible, to ease doing of business and to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services.
    2. Enhance implementation of innovative programmes (which have never been implemented before) and use of innovative approaches to programme implementation in each sector and MDA, which will make a direct contribution to MGDS III outcomes.
  6. Policy Priority Area 6: Reforms in the Executive (Sectoral and MDA Reforms)
    The public sector is part of the Executive arm of Government responsible for formulating and executing government policies and programmes. Sector and MDA reforms will be implemented as part of a strategy for improving performance of the executive arm of government in service delivery and the implementation of policies and programmes for achievement of MGDS III outcomes. All MDAs, Constitutional Bodies and Statutory Corporations will continue to participate in the reforms agenda and implement various reforms areas guided by this policy.

    Problem Statement
    Government has developed the MGDS III as the medium term development strategy for realizing national development outcomes that will lead to the realization of the national vision. Previous reforms failed to position sectors and MDAs to effectively contribute to achievement of national development outcomes due to inadequate alignment of sectors and MDAs to the key results in previous MGDS III; inadequate allocation of resources to sector and MDA priorities; lack of implementation plan for MGDS I and MGDS II; inadequate implementation capacity within the sectors; inadequate collaboration within sectors and with non-state actors in the implementation of sector strategies including reforms and; inconsistent implementation of the sector working group approach.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Build on previous reforms to entrench and deepen sectoral and MDA specific reforms to support service delivery improvements and realisation of outcomes as reflected in the MGDS III in the following sectors:
      • Sustainable agriculture, water development and climate change management
      • Education and skills development
      • Energy, industry and tourism development
      • Transport and ICT infrastructure
      • Health and Population

    Strategies

    1. Align sectors and MDAs to the national results framework in MGDS III through a systematic and integrated strategic planning process.
    2. Strengthen collaboration and eliminate the silo approach in the implementation of the MGDS III and all reforms.
    3. Strengthen capacity of sectors and MDAs to implement the MGDS III.
    4. Formulate sector and MDA specific reforms to support service delivery improvements and achievement of MGDS III outcomes.
  7. Policy Priority Area 7: Reforms in the Legislature
    The legislature plays three fundamental roles of representing the people who democratically elected them, making laws and providing oversight over the decisions and actions of the executive branch of government relating to resources and implementation of policies and programmes. In their oversight role, parliament scrutinises the national budget and expenditure to ensure proper allocation and utilisation of resources and accountability of the executive to the people through parliament as required in representative democracy. Parliament also scrutinises performance of the executive in relation to policy and programme implementation. The Malawi parliament undertakes its function through various parliamentary committees.

    Problem Statement
    Parliament comprises Members of Parliament who are elected once every 5 years and they are from different backgrounds. Not all of them have a full understanding of the performance agenda and operations of government through the public sector, the budget process and their role in relation to the Executive branch of government. In addition, the law making process may be slowed down in parliament if the members do not fully appreciate their law making role and the impacts of delays on implementation of reforms and performance of the public service. In addition, the role of parliament in promoting the national development agenda is not clearly understood as some members think that being in opposition means opposing whatever the executive is doing.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Implement comprehensive reforms in the legislative branch of government, building on previous reforms, to strengthen its effectiveness in making laws and providing oversight on the executive in policy and programmes implementation and utilisation of resources.

    Strategies

    1. Formulate a comprehensive reform programme for parliament to be approved by all relevant stakeholders and leadership of Parliament.
    2. Strengthen Capacity of Parliamentarians, particularly the relevant Parliamentary Committees to effectively perform their oversight and law making roles in order to support public sector transformation.
    3. Strengthen the working relationship between the executive and the legislature to promote collaboration in the achievement of the national development goals within the context of the principles separation of powers and checks and balances.
    4. Review Parliamentary Committees in line with the MGDS III.
  8. Policy Priority Area 8: Reforms in the Judiciary
    The judiciary is the arm of government that is responsible for delivery of justice and ensures that the law is applied fairly and equally.

    Problem Statement
    The judiciary in Malawi faces a number of challenges including limited capacity to administer justice expeditiously due to inadequacy of judges and other professional personnel to support judges’ work. The infrastructure of the courts both in main cities and villages is inadequate. The judicial system is also loaded with cases, which are never concluded or take a long time to conclude. Being a young democracy that is finding its feet in many areas the judiciary also finds itself at a crossroads ideologically where judicial independence and accountability as in other public institutions have become blurred. In addition, very few Malawians particularly the poor and those living in rural areas have access to the formal justice system.

    Policy Statement
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Implement comprehensive reforms in the judiciary, building on previous reforms, aimed at increasing access to the formal justice system; enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of justice and; increasing accountability and transparency of the judiciary to the public.

    Strategies

    1. Formulate a comprehensive reforms agenda for the judiciary to be approved by all relevant stakeholders and leadership of the judiciary.
  9. Policy Priority Area 9: Coordination and Implementation of Reforms
    Continued political commitment and leadership at the highest level, integration and coordination of reforms, and implementation capacity at different levels are crucial for the success of reforms. There is a need for continuous appraisal of factors that have potential to enhance or hinder reform progress. There is also a need to continuously explore ways of promoting the enhancing factors and addressing the hindering factors such as resistance to reforms, failure to take risks and non-availability of resources.

    Problem Statement
    The political commitment for reforms from the Head of State is high. However, this level of commitment for reforms is not present among all leaders at different levels in the public sector. In addition, the ministry responsible for finance does not earmark specific resources to support reform implementation. Furthermore, reforms across sectors and MDAs have not been adequately coordinated for synergies that can have a higher impact on achievement of reform objectives.

    Policy Statements
    Government undertakes to:

    1. Enhance commitment, coordination, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of reforms so that they can contribute to public sector transformation, service delivery improvements and achievement of MGDS III outcomes.
    2. Reposition the public service to be responsive to the global modernisation agenda in order to be in a position to facilitate modern and transformative programmes.

    Strategies

    1. Develop a modern and cutting edge framework for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all public sector reforms.
    2. Establish a dedicated Treasury Fund to facilitate implementation of selected and strategic reforms in the public sector. The Treasury Fund will have dedicated resources from government, donors and other investors aimed at catalysing the implementation of reforms.
    3. Establish a sustainable collective leadership and management structure with clear roles and accountabilities for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of reforms through the Cabinet committee responsible for reforms.
    4. Establish the Public Sector Reforms Management Unit (PSRMU) as a department to give it more leverage for it to ably spearhead and recommend evidence-based options in the implementation of the reform agenda; to manage and coordinate reforms and; to monitor and evaluate reforms.
    5. Develop capacity for implementation of public sector reforms at all levels.
    6. Increase commitment and accountability for implementation of reforms by continuing to implement Reforms Performance Contracts on the implementation of the reforms agenda, as part of the overall Performance Contracts which will start with the President and his Ministers and cascade all the way down to the lower levels.
    7. Conduct evidence based grounded research on impact of reforms.
    8. Conduct workshops, national conferences, international conferences aimed at sharing success stories, overcoming challenges and knowledge creation on the government reforms agenda.