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The Malawi Parliament Enhancement Project (MPEP)

The Malawi Parliament Enhancement Project (MPEP) combines interventions that engage and shape the power relations, incentives, and influences within and outside parliament, to enhance Malawi Parliament’s performance.

The project seeks to inspire supportive political behaviour and reforms, and strengthen capacity that enables performance improvement and effective delivery of Parliamentary functions.

MPEP is anchored within the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to enable parliament own, inform and steer its implementation and ensure sustainability of the interventions. The project is addressing both the political and technical bottlenecks that limit the capacity of parliament to effectively fulfil its mandate.

The project team, comprising diverse local and international experts in governance and evidence-informed transformational change, works closely with all leaders across the political spectrum to galvanise sustainable action to decisively improve the performance of the parliament.

To achieve its goal of improving the Malawi Parliament’s performance in executing its constitutional functions, the project implements a mix of interventions outline below.

To achieve increased autonomy of parliament, the project:

  • Facilitates regular meetings and conversations between parliament’s leadership and the Executive in efforts to improve relations and cooperation between the Legislature and the Executive
  • Engages the leadership of political parties around the parliament’s autonomy reforms and other reforms needed to improve the functioning of political parties and their contributions in improving the performance of parliament
  • Supports and facilitates TV and radio discussions on parliament and its role in Malawi’s development efforts. It also conducts training workshops and for journalists to improve the quality of media coverage of parliamentary affairs. Among others, these activities aim to increase the public’s understanding of parliament’s central role in democracy and governance, as well as generate the public’s support for a more autonomous parliament
  • Supporting the Legal Affairs Committee and the Parliamentary Service Committee to steer the legal reforms needed to bring about improved administrative, financial and legal autonomy of the parliament. This is essential in efforts to improve parliament’s performance

To achieve increased operational efficiency of parliament, the project:

  • Implements a mix of activities aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity of parliament’ Secretariat to support parliamentary functions. These include: review and revision of parliament’s strategic plan, planning and budgeting tools, and training and mentorship for parliament’s staff in a wide range of technical capacities (legislative research, budget analysis, bill drafting and analysis), strategic leadership and management
  • Implements activities aimed at strengthening capacity of committees to perform oversight function. These include: training and provision of technical support to priority committees (public accounts committee, legal affairs committee, budget committee, and government assurance committee), leadership training and mentorship for committee chairs and deputy chairs, training for committee clerks, and support to committees to development strategies and annual workplans, and development and adoption of committee monitoring and evaluation framework
  • Implements activities aimed at strengthening capacity of MPs to undertake parliament functions. The main activity here is the review and revision of the parliament’s training programme for MPs to ensure this is focused on the main functions of MPs of oversight, budget allocation and tracking, law-making, and representation
  • Stimulated ownership and leadership of the Malawi parliament in driving the political and legislative reforms needed to improve its performance. This has been demonstrated by the parliament’s adoption of a report in December 2018 that proposed wide-ranging reforms to give it financial, administrative and legislative autonomy needed for the parliament to more effectively deliver its mandates of oversight, budget allocation and tracking, law-making, and representation. It has also been demonstrated by the new parliament’s (following May 2019 elections) leadership (Parliamentary Service Commission) taking on the leadership of steering the proposed reform bills through the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee
  • Strengthened parliamentary committee system in Malawi following the adoption of the use of annual work plans, and M&E framework to track committee performance
  • Mainstreaming of parliamentary committees in Malawi which resulted in one committee being abolished by the new parliament following the May 2019 election based on technical advice provided by AFIDEP.
  • Improved quality of media coverage of parliamentary affairs (videos, blog)
  • Introduction of a weekly one-hour radio programme in Malawi (by Timveni radio) on parliament to increase the public’s understanding of the mandate of parliament, and provide a platform for the public to engage parliament. This introduction was a result of the Timveni journalists being involved in AFIDEP-led training workshops on parliamentary reporting

Outputs

  • Technical assistance and briefings provided to the Legal Affairs Committee, Public Accounts Committee, Budget Committee, and Government Assurance Committee
  • Training and sensitization for MPs belonging to specific committees in budget analysis and tracking, and bill analysis
  • More than 30 parliament staff trained in budget analysis and tracking, bill analysis, legislative research, and writing policy briefs
  • Placement of three fellows in parliament’s Research and Budget sections to strengthen technical capacity.
  • Parliament of Malawi developed and adopted Guidelines for Bill Drafting and Bill Analysis.
  • Malawi Parliamentary Committees adopted the practice of developing annual work plans; committees also adopted a monitoring and evaluation framework to track their performance
  • 28 journalists in Malawi trained in effective parliamentary reporting

The Malawi Parliament Enhancement Project (MPEP) is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi.

The project is a partnership between the Parliament of Malawi and AFIDEP. The primary role of AFIDEP is to provide technical assistance to parliament in implementing the project.

Key Details

Dates: June 2017 to Present
Aim:

The project seeks to inspire supportive political behaviour and reforms, and strengthen capacity that enables performance improvement and effective delivery of the Malawi Parliament’s functions.

Where: Malawi
Project Manager:Martin K. Phiri

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