Governance Link Initiative

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How Is Your Member Of Parliament Performing?


Employee Performance reviews/appraisals/evaluations are a key component of employee(s) and organizational development and productivity in any given institution. “While employee performance reviews are rarely anyone’s favorite undertaking, there’s no getting around the fact that employees’ performance, or lack thereof, directly and/or indirectly determines the future of the institution. It could build or break a given institution.”

A lot of employers in Malawi and around the world conduct regular employee performance reviews (usually annually) to check how their employees are performing, provide them with feedback and take necessary actions including remuneration adjustments; inspiration, training and support towards required improvements where needed; and in some cases they consider terminating the services of non-performing employees.

Performance reviews while not considered in the same way as in the context above, also takes place where we have elected representatives at different levels of our society and working in different capacities. Some may however ask; can our elected representatives’ performance be reviewed? The answer is YES, we do it all the time, formally and/or informally, knowingly and/or unknowingly, consciously and/or unconsciously, individually and/or in groups.

The next question would be, who conducts and/or can conduct these performance reviews? Generally, the constituents whom these elected officials represent conduct performance reviews. It could be eligible voters among the constituents and/or the entire constituency conducting the reviews.

The most common, is when individual members of the constituency in question start to think and reflect on the work of his/her elected representative and how that has in turn affected him or her and/or his/her constituency. These performance reviews are also done through peer to peer conversations or group discussions i.e. in mini-buses or other public transportation, at drinking places or sports centres etc, the results of which are communicated through such mediums as elections-voting, public disobedience-vigils/demonstrations, media and in some cases through the courts. The voters and/or constituents are in this case an employer and elected representatives, are employees.

Elected representatives are accountable to their constituents and ideally work to represent the needs, interests and aspirations of their constituents. However, experience has shown that in some cases, and in the case of Malawi, in most cases elected representatives tend to move away from their core mandate to serve their own interests and/or their membership interests to a particular group such as political parties or influential individuals such as the President. This has in turn had significant implications on individuals, families, the constituency and society as a whole.

In May 2014 we elected our current President, Prof. Peter Mutharika and his vice, Dr. Saulos Chilima; Members of Parliament and Councillors into office during the tripartite elections. Each one of them came to us with their own promises and those belonging to political parties, they also promised us a number of things their political party was committing to do once in office. It is almost two years since we voted them into office.

Today, we need to reflect and ask ourselves some hard questions; how is our President and vice, Members of Parliament and/or Councillors performing since they were elected into office? Are they adhering to their campaign promises or they have abandoned us in pursuit of their own interests and agendas? What have they done and/or not done so far and why? As voters, members of our constituency and/or citizens, are we doing enough to hold our representatives accountable and keeping them honest? How many times have you contacted and/or made an effort to contact your elected representatives, be it the President and/or vice, Member of Parliament and/or Councillors on any general or particular issue?

Conducting performance reviews of our elected representatives is our responsibility as individuals and as members of our constituency to ensure transparency and accountability.

So, how is your Member of Parliament performing? Sometimes, especially if there’s no information available to us, it can be difficult to conduct a meaningful performance review of our elected representatives like our Members of Parliament. This is where access to public information and honest communication is significant. However, there are a number of other questions that can help us answer the question…below are some questions we could ask ourselves about our Members of Parliament…

  1. Since your MP was voted into office, what bills has he sponsored/moved in Parliament?
  2. How many bills has he/she voted yes or no to? And how have these bills affected you, your constituency and entire country?
  3. Is your MP speaking up in Parliament and representing your interests and needs and that of your constituency? Or he/she is representing his/her own needs/interests and that of their party or party leadership?
  4. How many times has your MP visited the constituency?
  5. How many times has your MP held consultative meetings before and after parliament?
  6. Do you have access to your MP? Can you call or email him/her? And, if you call and /or email, does he/she respond or contact you back?
  7. What development projects has your MP initiated in your constituency?
  8. What existing projects is your MP helping move forward?
  9. Do you know what your MP is worthy in terms of his/her assets and liabilities? Has your MP publicly declared his/her assets?
  10. Do you trust your MP?
  11. What do you want to see change?
  12. What do you want to see improve?
  13. What do you want to see stopped/repealed?
  14. Do you think resources in your constituency are being used and managed well?
  15. Is your MP paying attention to the use and management of resources in your constituency?
  16. If you were to honestly rate (give points) your MP, between 1 to 5, 1 being extremely poor, 2=poor, 3=good, 4=very good, and 5 being excellent, what number would you give your MP?
  17. If you were to vote again today, would you vote for the same MP? And Why?

While it is any citizens and/or voters’ responsibility to decide to keep an eye on their elected represented/officials, Governance Link Initiative is providing a platform that you could use to appraise/evaluate and/or keep in contact with your elected representatives, explore the different tools and resources available on the website and decide today to actively participate in the affairs of your constituency and country as a whole. It is your right and responsibility. We have to work together to help make this great country better, and leave it in better shape and state than we found it.