“Cabinet is the central policy making organ of the Government and it is the only one which is charged with the responsibility of making policy in the country. However, over the years, I have noted, with great concern, that, often times, Ministers and Deputy Ministers unilaterally approve sectoral policies or, indeed, commit Government to certain major undertakings without involving Cabinet. I will not tolerate it because it is unprofessional and out of order. It ought to stop forthwith… “
Read the attached speech below.
Peter Mutharika during the Cabinet Orientation Workshop in Mangochi
I am pleased to be here this morning to officially open this Orientation Workshop for Ministers and Deputy Ministers. I consider this workshop to be very important because it is intended to equip Members of the Cabinet with requisite expertise required for us to execute our responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner and, consequently, succeed in our respective mandates.
The Right Honourable Vice President, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
The workshop has been organized at an opportune time when the country is facing numerous challenges that require special expertise by the Executive arm of Government to address them. However, the challenges can not only be addressed by the Executive alone but collectively by all Malawians. This, therefore, requires immediate and astute attention by all Malawians regardless of their political affiliation and belief. The country is in a poor economic shape and many Malawians are living in abject poverty. We must all, therefore, dedicate our energies and time towards the improvement of our economy and move our people out of poverty. I have no doubt whatsoever that this Government will achieve what the people of Malawi expect from us provided that we resolve to collectively work together as a team with sense of vigour, determination, and, of course, unity of purpose. All we need to do is to deliver quality services that meet the expectations and aspirations of the people of Malawi, particularly services that would improve the quality of their life. We need to improve the delivery of social services and develop infrastructure that will open the country up for rapid socio-economic development. We already have well articulated plans in our people-centred DPP Manifesto and what remains is nothing but implementation.
I am, therefore, delighted that this Workshop has been organized to prepare Members of the Cabinet for the mammoth task that lies ahead of us. The Workshop is a good starting point because it will equip you with knowledge on Government systems, processes and procedures. The topics and facilitators have been carefully chosen to ensure that you get the required knowledge and information.
I, therefore, urge you to participate fully in the Workshop and actively engage the facilitators. I believe that this is a golden opportunity that must be properly utilized and I am confident that, at the end of the Workshop, you will become more enlightened than was the case before and become ready for the mammoth task ahead of you.
The Right Honourable Vice President, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Cabinet are mandated, by law, to perform a wide range of responsibilities. Some of the responsibilities are enshrined in our Constitution while others are derived from other statutes, including the Public Finance Management Act. It is, therefore, important that in performing your duties and responsibilities as Members of the Cabinet you must be guided by the law of the land and operate within it at all cost. Please always remember that no one is above the law in this country.
I am, therefore, pleased that among the legal frameworks to be covered and discussed are the Public Finance Management Act, 2003; the Public Procurement Act, 2003, and the Public Audit Act, 2003. You must pay particular attention to these three pieces of legislation because I regard them as extremely important. They are helpful to the extent that they will assist you in your pursuit for good governance and prevent you from being in conflict with the law.
Let me hasten to mention that issues of transparency and accountability are extremely important and, as Members of the Cabinet, you must be beyond reproach in as far as these issues are concerned. I, therefore, advise you to be transparent and accountable when discharging your duties. Let me take this opportunity to reiterate my stand on zero tolerance against corruption. I am determined to combat corruption in this country because corruption is evil and detrimental to the country’s socio-economic development. Indeed, corruption is a cancer that is impinging on the human rights of all Malawians by denying them, among other important things, decent life, prosperity and socio-economic development. In this regard, I wish to urge you to join me in the fight against this evil and, at the same time, to desist from getting personally involved in corrupt practices. Let me warn you that I will not protect any corrupt Minister or Deputy Minister. Once you are found to be involved in corrupt practices, you will be fired and prosecuted accordingly.
The Right Honourable Vice President, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen Provision of policy direction is an integral part of your responsibilities. As Members of the Cabinet, you are mandated to set and shape Government’s policy direction. You are the Executive branch of Government which is responsible for policy development and implementation, initiation of legislation, implementation of laws and preparation of the budget of the State. As such, you have to assume leadership and responsibility for the effective delivery of Government programmes and services under your respective portfolios. It is important that as policy makers, you must be conversant with Government legal, policy and institutional frameworks. You must also develop sound policies aimed at bringing meaningful socio-economic development in the country.
Cabinet is the central policy making organ of the Government and it is the only one which is charged with the responsibility of making policy in the country. However, over the years, I have noted, with great concern, that, often times, Ministers and Deputy Ministers unilaterally approve sectoral policies or, indeed, commit Government to certain major undertakings without involving Cabinet. I will not tolerate it because it is unprofessional and out of order. It ought to stop forthwith.
At times, Controlling Officers dupe Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers into approving important policies bypassing Cabinet. As such, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers should be alert, desist from such malpractice and avoid being duped by Controlling Officers. Bypassing Cabinet is tantamount to denying Cabinet its constitutional right and I will not tolerate it. I will not hesitate to fire any Minister, Deputy Minister or Controlling Officer who deliberately circumvent Cabinet on critical sectoral national policy. Where in doubt please consult the Chief Secretary to the Government for advice. The Right Honourable Vice President, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
During the course of the workshop you will also discuss important Cabinet Principles, including Principles of Collective Responsibility, Cabinet Confidentiality and Declaration of Assets and personal interest. You will further discuss issues of relationships amongst yourselves and with Principal Secretaries. This is vital because Members of Cabinet and Principal Secretaries are all servants of the people of Malawi and we are all working towards a common destiny. This is also important for the efficient and effective management of your respective portfolios. In a nut shell, you need to develop a good working relationship amongst yourselves, with Principal Secretaries, officers within the entire Public Service and, more importantly, members of the general public. You also have to work hand in hand with Principal Secretaries and all officers within the rank and file of the Public Service because they are the engine of Government’s machinery and they play a vital role in implementing Government policies and programmes in Ministries under your direction. If you develop rapport with them, you will find them very handy and useful. Any acrimonious relationship between you and Principal Secretaries is, therefore, detrimental and must be avoided. The same is true for relationships between Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Let me also take this opportunity to advise Public Servants to give Ministers and Deputy Ministers maximum support in their duties in order for Government to deliver efficiently and effectively. There should be mutual respect and trust between the Executive and Public Servants. We need to be united and have a unity of purpose, goodwill and mutual relationships that will promote effective implementation of policies, projects and programmes. Our common goal is to fight underdevelopment, hunger, poverty and deprivation and not each other. In this regard, do not turn Government offices into battle grounds. Turn them into bastion of peace, love and harmony.
The Right Honourable Vice President, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen As I stated earlier on, this is a very important Workshop and it should not be an end in itself. The knowledge that will be acquired in the next three days will assist you in discharging your respective responsibilities in a professional and diligent manner. It will also help you to achieve tangible results. I want to see meaningful development taking place in the country and, as Members of the Cabinet, you are in the forefront charged with the huge responsibility of turning this country around. As leaders, let us move beyond rhetoric and become result-oriented. I would, therefore, like to advise you to take the Workshop seriously and apply whatever you will acquire from here in all your endevours. In closing, let me emphasize that this is a new beginning for Malawi. Obviously challenges shall always be there but let us vigorously address them. Let us remain vigilant and determined in the way we steer this country forward and the manner in which we implement our projects and programmes. We should not be discouraged but remain perpetually positive and capitalize on opportunities that already exist in this country. I am confident that if we work together as a team with renewed vigour and determination, we will succeed. With these remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations and I declare this Orientation Workshop for Ministers and Deputy Ministers officially opened. May the Almighty Lord Bless You All. Thank you very much for your kind attention.