The Malawi Government has announced that it would like to come up with a list of professionally qualified Malawians who are based abroad to comprise a Malawi Government Publication to be known as Malawi’s “WHO IS WHO”.  The Malawi’s “WHO is WHO” Publication will serve as a reference document for Government in search or expertise that is not readily available, to be engaged on specialized assignments on mutually agreed terms.

The government is, therefore, inviting all professionally  qualified Malawians who are resident outside Malawi to enlist themselves in the “WHO is WHO” publication by submitting personal particulars to the Department of Human Resource Management and Development. The press release from the Malawi government contains a form which one has to use in order to submit personal particulars.  I can send this press release to any Malawians in the diaspora who have not yet received it. Just give me a shout if you need it.

This is an excellent development as it will enable government to utilize the unique skills that have been acquired by Malawians through their service in some of the most developed countries in the world. However, it looks like some people are not happy with the fact that the registration form includes “sensitive details” such as traditional authority and home village. Since a good number of Malawians in the diaspora fled the country during the days of the dictatorship when issues of district of origin were so sensitive, it will be difficult for such people (and their children) to supply such information. Others think that once government is armed with such information it will be easy for it to track down its critics. One wonders why government is asking for such information. Does it have any significance on a person’s professional skills?  Maybe, the best way should have been to include TA and home village as optional details. Otherwise, a brilliant idea is being wrecked by petty misconceptions  emanating from our past experiences.

While I agree that folks in the diaspora have unique skills, I think that we also have some highly skilled people on the ground whose skills are going unnoticed. I, therefore, would like to ask the government to make this database all-inclusive. It should just be a WHO IS WHO publication for all professionally qualified Malawians regardless of whether they are based in the diaspora or not. After all, life is dynamic. People do not remain in the same place forever. Recently, we have seen some brilliant Malawians (e.g. Dr Matthews Mtumbuka, Mr Cheke Ziba etc.) returning home and we have also seen others (names withheld for obvious reasons, ha ha ha!) going into the diaspora.

Finally, the email based method that the government is using in order to collect information is archaic cumbersome. Government should have engaged the services of locally based web specialists, such as my good blogger friend Austin Madinga,  to develop a web-based self-registration software application for them. With such an application in place, all they would be doing is to broadcast its URL. People would then register online. Upon submitting the form, the database would be updated automatically.