FROM : BSS/28/ 17

Policy is everywhere. It controls what we buy, where, what we eat, how much we may, transportation. The environment, sports, everything. Its application and effect demonstrate what makes policy so important ( Dye,2004). “Policy is about the people”. Policy summaries our generally accepted customs and practices to guarantee some method of possibility in the distribution of scarce resources so we can all contribute towards a social outcome. For examples, a school sets a dress code (school uniform). Note that only one of these involves a official government structure. Policy can be well-defined in many ways depending on its presentation. The primary definition can be defined as follows: Policy: a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual (Dye, 2005). “No unity can be found on a specific definition of public policy”. Public policy can be described as the overall framework within which government actions are undertaken to achieve public goals. However, despite the diverse perception of public policy, many scholars have attempted to describe public policy from different angles
According to Dye’s (2004), “public policy is whatever government’s choose to do or not to do”. Similarly Lineberry (1977) says “it is what governments do and fail to do for their citizens”. In these definitions there is divergence between what governments decide to do and what they actually do. Generally speaking, public policies are governmental choices which are regularly as a outcome of activities which the government agrees in pursuance of certain objectives and objectives. Public policies are goal-oriented and obviously spell available actions of government. For instance, during the floods in the lower shire in 2014, the government of Malawi chose to take an action by sending aircraft to rescue people who were in danger of being taken away by water, therefore if the government choose to do nothing it could have ended in disastrous situation. However the government may choose to do nothing to prosecute the police officers after shooting innocent civilians.
In addition, “Public policy is the broad framework of ideas and standards within which decisions are taken and actions, or inaction, is pursued by governments in relation to some issue or problem” (Brooks 1989:16). For example, after seeing the influence of donors in Malawi, Bingu Wa Muthalika came up with the idea of solving the problem of relying too much on donors. The country could not develop because of the borrowings and receiving but to come up with a policy. Therefore, the late President introduced the policy of zero deficit budget to do away with donor support and to develop the country. The actions that the government of Malawi took in the era of late Bingu Wa Muthalika to stop influence of donors. This policy encourages the Malawians to be productive, for instance the introduction of technical colleges in the various districts across the country. The zero deficit budget puts Malawi on a map because within a short period of time it moved to another level of development.
Besides that, “Public policies are governmental decisions and actually the results of activities which the government carry out in achievement of certain objectives” (Dunn 2009). Also, public policy formulation and implementation includes a well-organized design or sequence of activity as it requires a systematically close knit relation and interaction edged by the key executive agencies. For example, the political executive, legislature, bureaucracy, and judiciary. Another example, the vision 2020 program is regarded as a policy were the government of Malawi want to achieve poverty reduction.
Daneke and Steiss (1978), “defined public policy as a broad guide to present and future decisions, selected in light of given conditions from a number of alternatives; the actual decision or set of decisions designed to carry out the chosen course of actions; a projected program consisting of desired objectives (goal) and the means of achieving them”. For example, the ban of alcohol sachets in Malawi, like riders, kadansana etc. The policy was implemented and formulated for significant impact on the healthy and the welfare of the population, (WHO 2013).The government of Malawi wanted to protect the youth from drug and substance abuse so that they can focus on their future.

Moreover, “public policy as an authoritative response to a public issue or problem, a policy is intentional” (Hogwood 1984). It means pursuing exact government goals through the application of recognised public or private resources, it is about making decisions and challenging their penalties. Policy decisions are authoritative as they are made by people with legitimate power in the system of government. For example the Sim-card registrations in Malawi, it was first addressed in the parliament then it was put into action by the authority. This was done to prevent the cyber-crimes which has been happening frequently in Malawi.

Further, “Public policy is also defined as a set of inter-related decisions taken by a political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actors to achieve” (Jenkins 1978). This initiate that public policies are goal oriented such that they are formulated and implemented in order to attain the objectives which the government or institution has in view for the vital benefit of the multitudes in general. These policies clearly spell out the activities of government. Hence, public policy seeks to attain a desired goal that is considered to be in the best interest of the society as a whole. For example, government may formulate and implement policies of access to clean water, good health, high employment, an innovative economy, high educational attainment, decent and affordable housing to its citizens.
Public policy, “is the outcome of the government’s collective actions”. It means that it is a pattern or course of activity or’ the governmental officials and actors in a collective sense than being termed as their distinct and isolated decisions (Dye 1972). For example, the introduction of free primary school during the era of Dr Bakili Muluzi. This policy helped many needy Malawians who could not afford to pay school fees (Daily Times 1996). Another example, the introduction of starter packs for needy Malawians who are unable to purchase fertilizer from nine hundred Malawi kwacha to five hundred Malawi kwacha. These are ongoing processes since it was introduced by the government and it is still being practiced as fertilizer subsidy.
In a nut shell, public policies are governmental decisions which are usually the result of activities which the government assumes in attainment of certain goals and objects. Additionally, Public policies are goal-oriented and clearly spell out the activities of government. Policies are the intentionally acknowledged rules of conduct and they always guide administrative decisions. They can also take variety of forms like law, ordinances, court decisions, executive orders etc. Public policy is predominantly a construction of governmental organs. Moreover, Policies are major instruments that are carefully formulated to move the society towards the major goal. In addition to that, different agencies or bodies like political parties, interest groups, intellectuals, legislation, bureaucrats, executives, judiciary etc, participate in public policy making.

Anderson, J., E., 2003, An introduction to Public policy making, Boston: Houghton.

Cochran, C., L., & Malone., E., F, 2014, Public Policy, perspectives and choice, 5th Ed. Lynne Rienner: USA.

Daily Times, 1996, Government Commends Starter Packs, daily times, Lilongwe, Malawi .Dunn, W., N., 2009, An introduction to Public Policy Analysis, Harlow: Pearson Longman.

Dye, T. R., 1972, Understanding Public Policy, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs: New Jersey.

Dye, T., 1998, “Understanding Public Policy”, (9th ed), Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Dye, T., R., 2012, Understanding Public Policy, Harlow: Pearson Longman.
Friedrich, C., J., 1976, Policy Making, Structures and Processes, Niilm University.

Garston, L., N., 2010, Public Policy Making: Process and Principles, New York: M.E Sharpe.
Hogwood, W., Gunn, A,. 1984, Policy Analysis for the Real World, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.