Ladies and Gentlemen,
I congratulate all of you on your appointment and swearing-in as Ministers and Deputy-Ministers in the Government of the Republic of Malawi.
I believe I speak for all Malawians in wishing you success and the very best in your assignment. I also believe that as your appointing authority, I hold a unique perspective on the ingredients commensurate with a successful tenure in my Cabinet. I therefore avail myself of this opportunity to present to you my expectations of you, which you would do well to regard as non-negotiable, for these expectations are designed to protect and promote the public good.
First, I expect my Cabinet members to work hard. We have more work to do than there are hands to do it. There is thereforee absolutely no excuse for sloth, laziness, and procrastination. You must attend to your duties. You must fulfil your responsibilities. You must do your job. And when I issue a directive for your ministry to carry out, you must engage an extra gear to 3 see that it is carried out with speed and without excuses above and beyond your regular duties.
Secondly, I expect my Cabinet to work together. Many of Malawi’s problems are multi-sectoral and require inter-ministerial collaboration. Whether it is the unprecedented devastation caused by a cyclone in the deep south of the country; or the devastation caused by Covid-19 pandemic in disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions; or the devastation caused by unemployment and loss of income-generating activities across the economy; or the devastation caused to our governance apparatus by decades of corruption in the public service, the solutions have to be multi-sectoral, inter-ministerial, and must be implemented collaboratively. Do not work in silos. Do not work alone.
Thirdly, I expect my Cabinet to work humbly. You are here to serve, not to rule or boast. Occupying high office is not a license to act high and mighty. The people of Malawi are your bosses, not your subjects. You are therefore not allowed to look your noses down on them. You are not allowed to talk down to them. You are not 4 allowed to brag to them about how great and powerful you are. You are not allowed to strut with pomp and circumstance. Our philosophy of leadership is servant leadership, and servant leaders listen more than they speak. Servant leaders focus more on improving public service delivery than enjoying public service benefits. Servant leaders remain reachable and accessible to the people they serve. Servant leaders use power to improve the plight of their people, not to enrich themselves.
Fourthly, I expect my Cabinet to work ethically. Do not accept a gift in exchange for using your office to give someone preferential treatment in the administration of a public service. That is corruption. Do not accept a payment from anyone to whom your Ministry has rendered a public service. That is corruption. Do not invent or fabricate or approve useless ministry activities in order to generate allowances for you and other public servants. That is corruption. Do not bully or push state institutions to pay or award a contractor from whom you stand to benefit and with whom you have business interests or shares. That is corruption. Do not, under any circumstances or for any personal glory, violate the 5 oath of office and related oath of secrecy you have taken, which are required by law and are designed to protect our national interests for the good of Malawi and its people. That too is corruption.
Corruption comes in many forms, and the opportunities to succumb to it in this country abound, but you must resist it at every turn. Because if you do not follow the law, the law will follow you. And if you think that I will use my office to save you from facing a law you have broken, then you are gravely mistaken.
Fifthly, I expect my Cabinet to work accountably. Whether you belong to Malawi Congress Party, or UTM, or People’s Party, or any of the other parties in the Tonse Alliance, you must remember that it is I who appointed you and it is to me that you report. Do not become presumptuous and imagine that your appointment is attributed to someone else. I expect regular and timely reports to my office of the progress you are making, and I expect those reports to be presented to me directly and for me to be the one that directs you on whether any contents in your reports should be shared with anyone 6 else. My point here is simply to remind you that you are not just a Minister of Government. You are my Minister.
Sixthly, I expect my Cabinet to work audibly. One of the flaws of the Cabinet I dissolved last week was its deafening silence. The Malawian people need to hear from you. They need to hear your voice. There are technocrats in your ministries whose job it is to work quietly. That is not how a Minister is meant to function. If there is a matter of public interest that falls under your domain, it is your responsibility to stand before the Malawian people and explain it. You are not to leave all public engagement to the Minister of Information. If Malawians are left guessing or misinformed about the activities and achievements of your Ministry, it is you I will hold responsible.
Lastly, I expect my Cabinet to work courageously. You must be brave enough to confront incapacity, incompetence, corruption, and disorganization in your Ministry. You can’t be a Minister and think that you must run to the President to complain every time you face a challenge or obstacle with another public officer 7 or Ministry. You must confront what stands in your way and find a way to overcome it. If there are people in your Ministry that are lazy or corrupt or sabotaging our agenda, confront that problem and find a legal means to address that obstacle. The time when you must bring an obstacle to me is when that obstacle is within my office. After all, my office and yours are inextricably linked, which is why it is called the Office of the President and Cabinet. The people that work for me in that office also work for you. They are there to assist you, not to obstruct and delay you, and so you must inform me when they are acting otherwise. I read on the front page of the papers today that there are road construction projects that the Roads Authority under the Ministry of Transport is failing to start because of delays at OPC. That sort of thing will not be tolerated, so when it happens, you must let me know.
If you work in a manner that reflects these seven values, there is no reason you should not succeed. On behalf of the Malawian people, I have placed my faith in your ability to facilitate the change that we promised. So go and prove to the Malawian people that you have what it 8 takes to deliver that change in record time, for there is no time to play and no time to waste.
I thank you for your attention.