Good governance is pivotal for the strengthening of an economy, the empowerment of citizens and the accountability of government. Poor governance is readily associated with corruption, economic decline and unrest in civil society.
Good governance is vital whether you’re a government, NGO, community group or individual.
In the Cooperation Agreement, signed by the Scottish and Malawian government in 2005, governance was identified as one of the four key priority strands for Scotland-Malawi linking. The Cooperative Agreement notes that work between Scotland and Malawi in this area should look to:
• strengthen governance by working with others to develop schemes for sharing government and parliamentary experience on both a local and central government level, and for sharing legal and financial expertise by engaging with national bodies and civil society
• share experiences of addressing inequality and the needs of vulnerable groups in society by supporting mechanisms for exchanging expertise and mentoring initiatives
• develop mechanisms for strengthening the media by facilitating links between key partners
• investigate innovative ways of developing and using technology, with particular reference to remote and rural communities
Scotland-Malawi links are contributing towards good governance principles and practice in Malawi at all levels, prioritising accountability, transparency and civil society participation in their partnerships.
In the wake of the high profile 'cashgate' scandal, there is a renewed focus on re-examining what can be achieved through further developing the two-way sharing and dignified partnership between Scotland and Malawi in the area of Civic Governance and Society. Indeed, at MaSP's January 2014 national symposium in Lilongwe, there was a formal request from the people and Government of Malawi for more partnership working with Scotland in this area.
In response to this request, the SMP Malawi Governance Forum was formed.
The forum now meets quarterly and exists to bring together all the key actors from government, parliament, civil society and business, who have leading roles in previous and existing partnership working between Scotland and Malawi relating to governance. In particular the forum aims to:
1. Facilitate networking between key individuals and organisations working in this area;
2. Share, in a safe and confidential environment, honest and open information about the challenges and successes we have each experienced in our governance work with Malawi;
3. Provide briefing, analysis and discussion around the governance related issues in Malawi;
4. Listen to the governance needs and priorities of the government and people of Malawi;
5. Learn about what other nations are doing in this area and look to coordinate Scotland’s unique contribution with this;
6. Provide information on upcoming funding opportunities and create a fertile space for the development of new ideas, collaboration and joint working.