Malawi: Hrdc Urges Chakwera to Swiftly Appoint Parastatal Boards So Chilima's Reforms Progress

18 September 2020

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has persuaded President Lazarus Chakwera to swiftly appoint new board of directors for statutory corporations so that Vice Presiperdent Saulos Chiima's meetings with management of parastatal entities should be more productive.

Since the Tonse Alliance won the June 23 elections, Chilima has been crisscrossing the country meeting with chief executives and management of parastatal organisations, the private sector and local councils as part of the public sector reforms agenda.

But speaking during a news conference in Lilongwe, HDRC says the reform meetings would be more productive with the presence of boards.

HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said the boards are the architects of governance processes in the institutions.

"That is why when we are doing the reforms, we should make sure that they incorporate the boards because these boards are important if all the recommendations that are being made in these discussions are implemented because these are the owners of the institutions," he said.

According to Trapence, HRDC is calling upon the government to speed up the process of appointing boards because if the reform meetings are only dealing with the CEOs, they leave behind the custodians these institutions.

"And that is why are saying that we need these boards to be part and parcel of the reform agenda. Over and above, we would want to see qualified board members," he said.

Trapence also noted that it is time government reviewed the policies on how it awards business to various entities.

"We know that there is a policy in place that guides the distribution of businesses, especially to indigenous Malawians. But what we are saying is that we don't want to see a monopoly of awarding businesses to certain companies for reasons that we don't know," he said.

To this effect, Trapance says HRDC conducted an audit in terms of which firmsare got the most contracts over the past 5 years.

"What we found out what that one individual can own maybe 15 companies, and maybe in one year, one family or individual is getting billions worth of contracts from several ministries.

"And we are not against the awarding to individuals that deliver costly and quality services, but what we are saying is that we should also look on the monopoly of how contracts are awarded to certain individuals. And that is what we should reflect on as a country.

"We are saying this because the corruption cases that we have in this country are coming around the awarding of contracts, either inflating the figures of not even delivering at all. These are the issues that we need to look at and seal all the loopholes," he said.

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