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Old-school Bureaucrats and Technocrats in Malawi: Civil Service Reform in Practice

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the implementation of the Good Governance agenda has failed to address the underlying dynamics of postcolonial bureaucracies in sub-Saharan Africa. The policies promoted by the international financial institutions (IFIs) are based on a technocratic conception of the state as homogenous and unified actor that needs to be repaired with a set of instruments or 'tools' provided by World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) experts. The chapter situates the civil service reform programme in the context of the Good Governance agenda promoted by the IFIs. It presents an account of the implementation of the retrenchment exercise, which shows that the framing of the object of civil service reform, i.e. the Malawian nation-state, by the IFIs failed to address the historical trajectory of the civil service in Malawi and, therefore, exacerbated already existing internal divisions.

Keywords: civil service reform programme; international financial institutions (IFIs); International Monetary Fund (IMF); Malawi; sub-Saharan Africa



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