UNDP holds an Ethics and Integrity training for senior civil servants

Mar 17, 2014

Principal Secretaries and heads of statutory bodies doing group work in one of the workshops. Photo: Shorai Nyambalo, UNDP Malawi

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) held two training workshop on Ethics and Integrity for senior civil servants in Malawi. The objective of the workshops was to strengthen national integrity and accountability for principal secretaries, heads of constitutional bodies and directors, accountants and systems analysts in the public sector. The first workshop was conducted on 10th and 11th March, while the other on 17 and 18th March 2014. Both workshops were conducted at the Malawi Institute of Management in Lilongwe.

The Chief Secretary to the Government of Malawi in the Office of the President, Mrs. Hawa Ndilowe launched the first workshop which tailored for principal secretaries and heads of constitutional bodies while the Principal Secretary for Administration at the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr. Chinthu Phiri launched the other.

Speaking during the opening Mrs. Ndilowe said it is time civil servants reflected on their service. Mrs. Ndilowe said mismanagement of public funds in the civil service is a result of lack of adherence to values, ethics and integrity among civil servants.

“Civil servants should reflect on their values and ethics in as far as public funds management is concerned. There is moral decay in the civil service. These challenges have accumulated for many years– we recognize that an opportunity is before us to address these long outstanding issues,” she said.

She also blamed civil servants for failing to blow a whistle when cases of public plunder take place. She gave an example of the recent financial crisis where about USD 30 million (MK13 billion) government money was embezzled by public servants, saying that in all discussions of the incident, there is no mention of a civil servant who stood courageously to report the plunder.

“No civil servant wanted to report the plunder, but they are in the same system. This shows lack of ethics and integrity,” said Ndilowe.

In her remarks, the Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Carol Flore-Smereczniak said Malawian citizens are increasingly calling for transparency in the use of public funds and effective delivery of public goods and services following the recent financial crisis.  As such, it is imperative to rebuild confidence in light of increased concern about corruption and unethical behaviours within the public service. This requires leadership that is a “role model” in holding everyone accountable as they go about the day-to-day business in ministries, departments and agencies.

Ms. Flore- Smereczniak said the public service is a key partner to the UN and other development partners in delivering development results. However, due to the recent financial crisis, flows of general and sector budget assistance through government systems are being affected – at least until confidence in these systems is restored.

“The consultations being held should be able to obtain a fuller picture and a better understanding of the root causes and – more importantly - how to address them in an “innovative manner” rather than just fixing the symptoms”, said Ms. Flore- Smereczniak.


Ms. Flore-Smereczniak urged that Malawi needs to build a public service that is based on strong foundation of shared ethical values and principles, integrity, transparency and accountability.


Launching the second workshop for directors, systems analysts and accountants, Mr. Chinthu-Phiri advised that the lack of ethics in the public sector should not be simply linked to the recent financial crisis only since the ethics problem has been there for some time.


“Much as we got shocked about the decline in ethics in terms of accountability for public finance as revealed by the Cashgate, for a while we have noted a general decline in conduct of civil servants.


“Generally, we have seen ethics going to the dogs. We have seen deteriorating behaviors of civil servants in terms of coming to work late, knocking off very early, people sharing allowances for trips that were not conducted, and managers abdicating their responsibilities to provide leadership in matters they are expected to provide way forward to their subordinates.


“This orientation therefore should not only be about attendance but it should lead to behavioral change and improvement in all spheres of the public service,” said Mr. Chinthu-Phiri.


The ethics and integrity workshop was conceived within the Public Service Capacity Development Project which aims at creating a strong and professional public service at all levels endowed with enough capacity to better manage and deliver services. 

These workshops have been preceded by a Training of Trainers (TOT) session to ensure that there is a critical mass of Malawian experts who can support ethics and integrity trainings on a long-term and sustainable basis since changing ethical attitudes and behaviors’ is not a one-off activity but a process.   

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