The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) is shocked with the news that the Tonse Alliance government has given a node to Cabinet Ministers and their deputies to hire personal Public Relations Officers (PROs) at a time when the same government is riddled with unprecedented domestic and external debts.
According to a letter CDEDI has in procession from the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Mr. Zanga-zanga Chikhosi, dated October 21, 2020, government has approved the decision that ministers and their deputies should be provided with PROs on contract basis but also in line with the tenure of office of the ministers and their deputies. The letter also gives the ministers and their deputies the luxury to appoint “a suitable person”.
CDEDI would like to believe that the SPC took some time to think before authorizing this kind of arrangement while fully aware that we have 29 ministers and deputy ministers who initially were given a chance to appoint their own Personal Assistants (PAs), mostly trained journalists. Government has employed PROs for almost all the ministries and departments. Furthermore, cabinet ministers also speak on behalf of the ministries in issues that are bordering on policy direction. Do cabinet ministers and their deputies really need personal PROs? Isn’t this a glaring duplication and waste of scarce government resources?
We at CDEDI, are tempted to believe that this is a well calculated scheme aimed at legitimizing blatant siphoning of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of the Tonse Alliance handclappers and bootlickers. It is disheartening to note that the SPC has given a node to a policy direction aimed at appeasing individuals that are well connected with the ruling elite, and mostly those in urban set-up. This is a total contradiction to the Tonse Alliance promise of prudent use of government resources.
Furthermore, we at CDEDI, find this arrangement very unnecessary; a complete duplication of duties; and waste of public resources. Records have it that Malawi is experiencing unprecedented budget deficit of about MK754 billion, a situation which is very worrisome and gives no room for extravagance of political appeasement.
Just as an example, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has a cabinet minister and a deputy; a PRO; two Personal Assistants; and two personal PROs will now be appointed for the minister and the deputy minister. All these personnel will be swimming in taxpayers’ money. Is this the new Malawi that was promised by the Tonse Alliance prior to the June 23rd Fresh Presidential Elections? Obviously, the voters are the best judges, but CDEDI is of the view that the Tonse Alliance government is now totally disoriented and has engaged an extra gear on its way to self-destruction.
Lastly, but not the least, CDEDI is challenging the Tonse Alliance government to desist the temptation of pleasing everyone, because they will end up disappointing everyone. The administration should also not take Malawi as an experimental plot. CDEDI is, therefore, demanding President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to immediately reverse this retrogressive decision.
CDEDI is a non-partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established in a quest to attain a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.