Malawian Watchdog publication in celebrating excellence and denouncing mediocrity among our public servants conducted and will continue to conduct research, the aim being to find out star performers in public offices as well the worst performers.
For the star performers, the idea is to recognize their good job and encourage them to continue doing the good job for the people of Malawi and for the worst performers, the idea is encourage them to pull up their socks and deliver performance above average or indeed to be star performers.
In this first article, we present to you our findings as regards the research we conducted on who the best Minister in President Peter Mutharika’s government is as well as who the worst performer is. A similar study was also conducted as regards the best Malawi Ambassador as well the worst Ambassador.
Purposive sampling was used. A questionnaire was administered to both junior as well as senior members of staff on a strict promise that we will guarantee maximum secrecy in that we would not, at any point, disclose their names when they provide us with responses. Some responded, some didn’t. We are grateful to those who responded.
A similar questionnaire was also dispatched to a number of journalists, both those working for the government as well as those working in private media houses. We choose journalists as we know that they normally interact with these Ambassadors and may have an idea on how these public officials are performing.
A third sample came from Malawians who usually comment on national issues both on radio as well as TV. This group of people was chosen as they are conversant with how government operates and we considered that they would have an idea on how their public officials are performing.
Findings, analysis and discussion
The research has found that Minister of Education and Technology Bright Msaka and Malawi Ambassador to Brazil, Brian Bowler to be the best Minister as well as Ambassador respectively. Those who came second from Bright Msaka was Minister of Trade Joseph Mwanavekha and Malawi High Commissioner to UK Kena Mphonda came second from Ambassador Bowler.
Why Bright Msaka SC?
As stated earlier on, our research has found that Minister of Education, science and Technology Bright Msaka as the best Minister in the President Peter Mutharika 20 member cabinet. Msaka is said to be a proactive minister who is leading his ministry from the front.
Though it was mentioned that Msaka struggled to contain the electricity situation as he was Minister of Energy, the respondents nevertheless, mentioned that Msaka was on top of the situation and was available to give Malawians updates on what his ministry and indeed the government was doing to contain the situation. The respondents observed that the assurances he made on how electricity would improve are coming to pass today and there is some relief in the country in as far as the irritating black-outs were concerned.
As Minister of Education, Msaka is also on top of the game, crisscrossing the country distributing desks, interacting with teachers, resolving disputes and today, there is some sort of sanity in the education ministry, a ministry which normally brings the nation to a standstill due to frequent strikes which characterize the order of the day.
“Even President Mutharika, then as Minister of Education, failed to handle the ministry. So we must give credit where it is due,” said one of the respondents.
A lawyer by training, respondents observed that perhaps, is his greatest asset he is using to create a conducive environment in the education sector.
Nevertheless, his success story in the Ministry of Education is being attributed to the vast experience he has as he ever served as the Chief Secretary to Malawi government for a very long time.
The research also found that Msaka served as Malawi High Commissioner to UK during President Muluzi’s time and all this experience put together is what perhaps is making him to be emerging as an exceptional minister in this cabinet.
Would it be because of his rich understanding of how government operates that media reports are linking him to a possible running mate position to President Peter Mutharika in 2019? Let’s wait and see!
Nevertheless as a weakness, respondents say Msaka has lost the bit and/or seriousness he has always been associated while working as Chief Secretary to Government.
Nevertheless, the research found that he is the best Minister in this Peter Mutharika Cabinet. We at Malawian Watchdog congratulates him. We hope he will continue doing the good job for the benefit of the nation.
Why Ambassador Brian Bowler?
Our research has have found that Ambassador Brian Bowler is the best diplomat Malawi has ever produced. It was observed that Ambassador Bowler is the only diplomat in Malawi to have served four presidents namely Presidents: Dr Bakili Muluzi, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, Dr Joyce Banda and now Professor Peter Mutharika. This record alone speak volumes of how talented Bowler is.
During Dr Bakili Muluzi’s time, Bowler was dispatched to establish first ever diplomatic relationships with India. Bowler set and open the mission as the country’s first high commissioner to India where he bilaterally increased trade and investment opportunities. Today, the relations between Malawi and India are cordial and growing from strength to strength. While in India, it was established that he was the brains behind Bowler establishing e-learning modules between Amity University and University of Malawi, a development which is helping Malawians up to date.
At the peak of things while in India, our research has found that he received the ‘Best Ambassador Award’ by the International Council of Jurists and the All India Bar Association and was recognized by Amity University for fostering international diplomatic relationships for excellent bilateral practice and adherence to ethical standards.
“It was a fantastic moment for the mission” said one of the respondents who was working in the mission that time in India.
Our research further found that Bowler ever served as Malawi Ambassador to Belgium, the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; the Swiss Federation; Republic of France; the European Commission; and the European Union. He was also accredited to the African, Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Organization, UNESCO, the Word Trade Organization, the World Food Programme, and International Court of Justice, The Hague. In these missions, Bowler increased Malawi’s visibility and promoted Malawi’s trade interests.
Owing to his experience in diplomacy, Bowler was then placed to be Malawi’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the United Nations in New York where he served for two terms.
At such a high level platform, our respondents disclosed that Bowler Successfully increased Malawi’s visibility on the international scene through high level leadership roles as he successfully navigated sensitive issues as the Chair of the 44th Commission on Population and Development which resulted in a Resolution that was endorsed by the UN General Assembly. He was also appointed by the Appointed by the President of the 66th UN General Assembly to Co-chair and facilitate the graduation process for least developed countries (LDC). Bowler was also elected as Vice President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly. Bowler also chaired the African Group of Ambassadors and provided leadership to harmonize and strategize the African position in the UN. Bowler also represented Malawi as African Union Chairman. The leadership roles he played while at the UN are too numerous to mention and respondents who worked with him at the UN said he made them proud.
Meanwhile, Bowler is serving as Malawi’s Ambassador in Brazil and is also accredited to the Latin Countries where he is pursuing the promotion of Malawi agenda.
Nevertheless, the weaknesses of Ambassador Bowler is that he involves himself in partisan politics. As ambassador, the expectation is that he must be neutral but our research has found that he is a political strategist of repute such that he comes to Malawi to run elections for his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The findings from our respondents, especially journalists and other officials, link Bowler to rigging elections. The respondents did not substantiate their allegation, but the findings suggest that a big section of Malawians believe that he is an expert in running elections hence linking him to rigging tactics. The only explanation they pointed out is that Bowler is a British trained and Israel perfected strategist hence always suspected to be involved in rigging elections. Ironically, the results found that he runs the election himself. Nevertheless, they admitted that he is friendly and approachable to the media and is very bold and fearless when taking decisions for the benefit of the country.
“Just imagine, when Chaponda was a powerful minister and was embroiled in corruption scandals involving money meant for the UN peacekeeping mission for our soldiers and the Zambia-maize gate scandal, it was him who called Chaponda ‘the Judas’ Peter Mutharika was referring to in an earlier speech. He even said that he had no respect whatsoever for the crooked Chaponda. This was phenomenon but of course he was spot on,” said one of the respondents.
But weighing him on scale, his strengths outclassed the weaknesses. It is for this reason that the research concludes that Bowler is Malawi’s best Ambassador of all times hence celebrating his achievements while he is still alive than the usual practice of praising such people when they have gone to meet their creator.
Kondwani Nankhumwa and Edward Sawerengera worst Performers as Minister and Ambassador respectively
Talking about the villains now, our research has found that Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa and Malawi Ambassador to USA Edward Sawerengera as the worst Minister and Ambassador respectively.
According to our respondents, it was pointed out that the greatest weakness of the two officials, Nankhumwa and Sawerengera is that they are more into politics than concentrating on the job they are supposed to execute. As such, they spend much time viewing things from a political point of view such that it appears as if there is no one in charge of the ministry as well the mission as they behave more as regional governors of their parties than as Ministers as well as being an Ambassador.
Minister Nankhumwa is always in the news for bad reasons always, the recent being his bulldozing of awarding 86 Mps, millions of money, without following procedure, so they could be seen to be doing various developments so they could be re-elected in 2019. These are MPs who supported DPP to shoot down electoral bills. The leader of opposition called Nankhumwa to resign as Minister due to his criminal conduct.
Nankhumwa is also elevating Lomwe chiefs as Traditional Authorities in Areas dominated by Yaos, the reason being to Lhomwelise the whole southern region for the ruling DPP to maintain grip on power.
On the part of Sawerengera, he is an inexperienced and not quite qualified to serve as a diplomat, who is benefiting from the fact that he is a Lhomwe by tribe to be appointed Ambassador. Worse still, Malawi is losing a lot with the inexperienced Sawerengera in Washington, where respondents, said needed someone who understands economics to be able to deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other major players of interest to our nation. Sawerengera, is said to be more concerned with politics in Malawi, spending most of his time in Malawi than in the USA where he is supposed to serve as Ambassador.
We at Malawian Watchdog, congratulates Msaka and Bowler for their excellence. Congratulations are also in order to Minister Mwanavekha and High Commissioner Mponda for being recognized as the second best.
To Mr Nankhumwa and Mr Sawerengera, this is an opportunity for you to pull your socks and do a good job for your country else it will be written in history that you did to the Malawi nation a disservice when you were given the opportunity to serve the motherland.
Remember, being in your position is once in a life time opportunity and do a good job. Don’t think Peter Mutharika will stay in power for ever so you can continue to be in the positions you are in. Who knows you guys may leave the stage in 2019? What would you want Malawians to remember you when all is said and done? It’s up to you to serve Malawians or you tribe and/or your selfish-political interests.