07:20 am - Wednesday 29 March 2017

salary increments in civil service in malawi – a poison chalice?

By Analytical Rose - Tue Dec 09, 8:32 pm

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Malawi: I have read with interest the present debate prevailing about salary hikes that have been given to the national assembly of Malawi. I have absolutely no doubt that this will not go down well because I understand from reliable sources that there are sections of the public sector which in fact are not receiving their monthly pay in the country and this has been for a very long time. I gather some of this has been corrected but there are still some nurses, teachers, etc who not getting their money when the month comes to an end. We now have to admit this is dire straits! there is no two ways about it. I believe the governement when it says it has no money. Equally I have to understand how expensive an MPs life is. You hear of the so called benefits to enalbe them to do their work and come to realise that in fact even that is a drop in the ocean. A lot of the more honest MPs and ministers end up dipping into their pockets to manage these jobs.

Civil Servants in Malawi

Civil Servants in Malawi

There are then those that might feel well after all that they mistakenly think politics can be an investment in that sense, but I have come to realise that in essence politics is not an investmane in the common sense. You can make money out of politics I suppose when you become successful and you have made your name and what you say starts to matter and people want to listen to it in what every format you want to use it.; In book form people will buy your book; in meetings people will come to your meetings and pay for them etc etc.A lot of the Malawian politicans have a mistaken idea that there is a heap of money in government and if they get close to it by becoming a minister or MP they may improve themselves. Well you may improve yourself I suppose by understanding the system better and then utilising more beneficially on a personal level but the ultruistic approach is that you go into government to influence use of resources for the maxixmum benefit of everybody. Those two concepts don’t work together.

I do not blame the APM govrnment for hiking salaries, no not at all, these people need money to do their good work. I only want to explore an approach that may have been more palatable. Let’s use the scenario where by there is not enough money in the house to go round; here is fees for the child otherwise she wont go to school, there is not enough clothes for the father otherwise he wont look good in the office, there is hospital bills for the mother’s operation otherwise she will lose her life and we are going to have no mother. Where do you start? I see Malawi as in this very situation. ….so many people needing salary hikes and who should we start with? Do we start with the policy maker so that they can do their work and produce wealth for the masses? this of course assumes that the policy maker will use the money for what it is intended for? Or do we in fact give what is rightly theirs to the civil servants on the shop floor who keep days going; day in and day out? they need an income for their daily needs!This is a visicious circle, we need healthy workers to carry out the policies of the policy makers to make the country run. Where do you break the cycle and I think this what APM is grappling with.

Personally I think before we talk of any salary hike we need to make sure that every civil servant has got the salary they were employed on at the end of the month so that what ever little they can afford on that is done. After that we should then look at where in the system would be boosting with money to make a difference. When that decisison has been made we should look at the system in place to see if their use of resources is justifiable or not. I have in mind here political handouts. Let’s look at political hand outs: people in Malawi think that the minute you are an MP your cars are theirs,if you do not go along with this you are not a very good MP! on when they need them,your resources must be oen to them! they feel and have been trained to love politicans to give them gifts clothes, money, food all that. Not only does this breed a dependent mind but it also puts pressure on the politician to have ready cash to keep for the voter.The trouble is that Malawian politicians dont have money. Foer the system to continue the money has to be had from somewhere. This then starts misappropriations and the chaos is set oin stone! Those people who are voters have their bad begging, expecting, habit entrenched and this is a killer of a nation. people, who I appreciate are very poor render themselves even more poor by resorting to begging and expecting! This very dangerous cancer slowly eating away at our society needs to be eradicated Mr. president! I don’t know where you start but may I suggest may be legislation with repeated explanations against the dnagers of of political handouts; because the system is now part of the culture but Malawi will never develop under this corruptive system. This is mis use of public funds! but also it setrs a viscious circle which perpetuate misappropriation od funds, how ever it gets to the voter! It then rollercosters into things like salary hikes because money is flowing in the wrong direction! This most destructive truths is one of the things that can be corrected, starting from now!.

In addition of course it’s simply looking at managaing the money. If you only have 1000 kwacha for the whole month you know that you can’t afford chambo that month and Malawi should have that approach. There are things we can’t afford . Having said that without basics a country can’t run!Which country do you know that runs with no water?How are hospitals managing this situation? Can Malawi look at alternatives? What is the root cause of the electricity deficencies at ESCOM? Is it poor planning? addressing root problems is the answer to the rot we find ourselves in. Now from what I read the government has gone to great extent to do this re laying of services and its just a matter of time before we feel the effects of it. The point of this article is to examine one point in that continuum which deals with what people are arning to conduct their lives in the country.

Can you see how all these issues roll into one another and so the decision as to who gets a salary hike and who does not when, how much and when is a diffulct one because fundamentally everybody needs their salary to contribute to the nations developemnet.You cant live withotu an income. In essence a salary hike is not wrong at all and this is understandble. Where you start the hike may be more controversial. You may decide that you will cushion your policy makers so that they carry on the policy making because nothing will change unless the people making the decisions can deliver the policies do that,but the people on the shop floor have to have eaten, slept under a roof and have access to medicine to keep helath to effcet the polidice you are devising!You see running a country is team work. Its no good sitting in nsanjika pasing rules and nobody obeys those rules on the streets it wont work. Equally its no good being ready to work when decisions at government level are poor it wont work either. I personally think the best approach Peter is to look at which people is the system are suffering most. If it is true that you still have civil servants who are not getting their salaries at the end of the month they need to be back on track before the cabinet ministers salaries, simply because they have to survive. As this grows then the the hikes should be divied piece meal all round so everybody is kept alive, they can eat, they can go to hospital , they can follow the policies you are formulating everybody is suffering there are no two ways about it but we need to guard resources such that it keeps us all going with our little jobs, encouraged in our jobs and pushing the country forward and that threshold when you can say Malawi is managing will be reached! It is a difficult situation and the skill in managing it involves risk taking but there is no nation that moves forward on sick, hungry, thirsty citzens no matter how good their policy makers are. So may be the government needs to look at this as well very carefully indeed.

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