Governance Curriculum/Administrative Law

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Training in Good Govenance for Senior Government Officials


This programme builds upon a popular training programme in administrative law that was organised for Principal Secretaries in the Malawi Civil Service by the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in 2000. The then Solicitor General, Mr Steve Matenje, and an external expert in Administrative Law and author, Prof. Christopher Forsythe, teamed up to prepare a training manual in Administrative Law to be used in the course. This manual was published by OPC and used in subsequent training. It was updated in 2007 by Dr Edge Kanyong'olo of the Faculty of Law and used for further training programmes.

The intention of the then Secretary to the President and Cabinet was to expand the programme vertically to include Ministers of State and those reporting to Principal Secretaries, as well as to widen the scope of the training. His successor, now Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, is similarly aware of the transformational potential of this training and continues to collaborate with the Ministry of Justice to support ongoing professional development programmes for senior members of the civil service. The Governance Curriculum Initiative is in a position to assist with the further development of this programme and discussions to take this further are under way. It is proposed to incorporate additional materials on such matters as the international, constitutional and legislative framework, human rights and democratic processes, humanitarian law, and working models to optimise the partnership between government, civil society, the private sector and the international community for economic development and prosperity.

The core philosophy of the course is to provide those in authority with the conceptual tools and practical skills to optimise their decision-making performance. Decision-makers learn techniques to apply policies and balance competing interests, as well as manage and weigh evidence in the exercise of discretion. A range of public duties are examined, including the duty to act lawfully within one's jurisdiction, to observe the rules of natural justice procedural fairness including duty to consult, to base decisions on adequate evidence, to understand freedom of information principles and the scope of duties associated with open and transparent government in a democratic society balancing the duty to give reasons for decisions with obligations to observe confidentiality and privacy requirements, the duty to operate efficiently and cost-effectively to optimise available resources, the duty to take remedial action, to share information with colleagues, to avoid conflict of interest, and fundamental human rights obligations such as to avoid discrimination.

It is anticipated that this training model will be adapted and replicated in other jurisdictions.