AFIDEP, through the Malawi Parliament Enhancement Project (MPEP), convened a workshop with technical personnel in Malawi parliament to review and explore strategies to improve the performance of the various Parliamentary Committees. Participants included parliamentary clerks, finance and budget analysts. The Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Division in Uganda Parliament, Josephine Watera and the Content Advisor of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, Mamphago Modiba, complimented facilitators from AFIDEPat the workshop held 30 November – 2 December 2018 in Salima, Malawi.
Committees are crucial in ensuring that Parliaments effectively carry out their work. Increasing the competencies of Committees allows them to successfully deliver on their long-term oversight, legislative and representational functions. Besides looking at performance, participants at the workshop conducted a mapping exercise to determine capacity needs for improving management of Committee performance; how to introduce monitoring, learning and evaluation in a parliamentary setting; and strategizing on ways to overcome challenges in implementing Committee work plans.
The workshop delivered on what it had set out to do in that participates were able to identify areas they lack knowledge in and also learn for success stories from other Parliament. One such story was how in South Africa Committees are required to submit their own quarterly, annually and a five-year legacy report which is a self-assessment tool used by the Committee for inward-looking and futuristic improvement. The mapping exercise revealed the need for capacity building in the development of work plans, monitoring and evaluation and tracking performance of Committees. Lessons were drawn from Uganda on how engagement of all stakeholders in Committee greatly influence the outcomes of performance measures, and the need to build the culture of Parliament as evaluations institutions is critical.
The forum was also a time to reflect on achievements and work done over the past 4 years since the current parliament started. At the beginning of the workshop, Grace Mganga, Chief Clerk Assistant noted that “it has been a long 4 years and as a team, we haven’t reflected. I am looking forward to learning how we can improve for the next parliament.” Others anticipated learning effective ways of developing work plans for parliamentary Committee sectors and gaining skills to track and monitor performance. Having their counterparts from Uganda and South Africa parliaments provided an opportunity for shared learning, exchange of best practices and networking.
The workshop did meet these and other expectations. Sangwani Mseteka Phiri, Budget Analysis and Public Finance Management Expert gained a better understanding of how her role can add value to the parliamentary Committee processes. “Being relatively new to the parliament of Malawi and expected to work with 3 Committees the Public Accounts Committee, Budget and Government Assurance. The presentation on functions and mandates of Committees was particularly helpful in helping me understand the roles of Committees and how I as a budget analyst can fit in and work with them,” she said.
The workshop was a preparatory workshop for Committee Chairs which is scheduled for the 17thand 18th December, 2018.