Vice President Saulos Chilima has lined up a bloated delegation of 40 people on his upcoming trip to the United States where he has been delegated some official duties by President Lazarus Chakwera, we can reveal.
President Chakwera delegated to Chilima a task to form and lead a Malawi entourage to an Economic Forum at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Vice President is expected to spend a maximum of three weeks in the US yet he is only attending a three-day event, meaning the rest of the days are a mere opportunity for his entourage to enjoy a vacation and go shopping.
The most shocking thing about his unnecessarily big entourage is that it depicts an irony of extraordinary proportion as he is supposed to be the first person to act with utmost prudence. It is demoralizing to the national spirit that the Vice President, who is in charge of Public Sector Reforms, has become the chief culprit in wasting government resources on avoidable costs.
The reforms, among other attributes, hinge on cutting on government expenses to channel the funds in other important cost lines within the government structure.
His conduct is yawning contrast to the Tonse administration agenda which has placed austerity as a key policy guide for government officials from top to bottom.
This is why President Chakwera has been fulfilling this promise every time he goes on a foreign trip. He has made sure to be accompanied by skeletal teams to support his engagements.
Interestingly, the President’s most recent trip was also to United States where he attended the UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In addition, he also traveled to Washington to meet key people at the State Department, International Monetary Fund, Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID among others.
For all these engagements, the President only travelled with less than 25 people having cut his proposed entourage from 42. This entourage was enough to support his engagements with six institutions in two cities besides the many side meetings.
Yet Chilima, who only has a single official assignment in New York with one institution in one city, plans to take a delegation of 40.
As conventional wisdom would have it, every person who travels with a top government official must be assigned specific duties that will add value to the principal. Chilima seems to have forgotten this rule and has chosen to take passengers along.
For instance, Chakwera always travels with one Executive Assistant, yet his Vice President has the temerity to take as many as six Special Assistants for the US trip. What they will be doing there, nobody knows. It is doubtful that the Veep’s office will voluntarily release the list of 40 delegates to lead the reforms practice of transparency by example.
What is less in doubt is that Vice President and other top civil servants get away with opulent lifestyles using public funds because Malawians and the media are mostly obsessed with the State President. This leaves room for officials like Chilima to abuse public resources with impunity.
Malawians, both home and abroad, have been speaking strongly against wastage of public funds at a time when delivery of basic public services is facing economic impediments.