By Duncan Mlanjira
South Africa-based Malawian Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa, who has described President Lazarus Chakwera’s 31-member cabinet as probably the most incestuous cabinet since 1994, is now calling “upon all Malawians to rise up once more, raise their voices and reject this cabinet.”
The strong critic of Malawi’s political and social ills, says “once again, Malawians are taken as fools. Newly elected President Chakwera has quickly transformed himself into a good salesman of words and rhetoric while serving the same stale dishes Malawians have fed on in the last 26 years.
“On Monday, he promised heaven, yesterday he unleashed hell. He’s ripped apart the speech he gave three days ago even before the ink in which it was written has dried.
“These are the actions of a man who doesn’t understand the moment and what needs to be done. He has reduced the electoral victory to the actions of a few individuals whose main interest is to profit from the state, not through the ordinary remuneration and other trappings ministerial positions offer, but though corruption and looting.
“Those who have called for a protest must be supported. Here are the reasons for rejecting this cabinet:
1. The restructing of the government is irrational, with some ministries broken up for no good reason, or having no concrete mandate deserving separate existence, while other important portfolios have been removed or ignored completely.
2. There’s no manifest bona fides rationale for the restructuring, which is linked to better delivery of the alliance manifesto. On the contrary it is evident that the structure is meant to accommodate the wide net of patronage networks.
3. The composition of the cabinet reflects back room deals founded on pay for play, corruption and nepotism.
4. Crooks and known looters have been appointed, sending a clear message that all talk about ending corruption and all gimmicks about shutting down the MRA and other institutions to nip looting was window dressing. We have seen this before, Malawians are not that stupid.
5. Key ministeries such as health, education, and foreign affairs need competent professionals to run them; to be sure, a medical doctor, an renowned academic, and a seasoned diplomat respectively. Individuals of questionable credentials have been appointed to thes portfolios.
6. The entire cabinet stinks of incest, and the smell is quite frankly unbearable. Not only has it been set up so that some families loot not just one ministry but two or more ministries.
7. The cabinet is embarrassingly male dominated, even as the ministry of gender and children has been abolished. If the men who have been appointed we’re exceptional, may be there could be an argument as to merit. But this argument is unavailable because we have some of the known incompetents and crooks on the list. There’s no excuse for marginalizing women in this day and age.
8. The cabinet lacks regional balance. Once more, the northern vote has been used for the hegemonic ambitions of another region. One should have expected a more fair representation from the north given the critic role it played in ushering in this government. It seems all credit has been given to the Vice President, which is altogether misplaced. Apart from the AG, I haven’t seen any credible person from the north in this government who can stand up and put pressure to do good. The disproportionately few that are there are mere ‘hand clappers’, to use somebody’s terminology.
9. There are no stars in this cabinet. All we have is a collection of recycled politicians, spent forces, looters, privileged and spoilt sons of powerful families and a few unknown new additions.
If I am being too bland it is only because I cannot believe that the new President would stoop so low and dampen hopes so quickly. We need some rest please and so do the right thing!” sums up Professor Chirwa.
Antonio Kasote responded by saying Chirwa’s sentiments are just from emotional frustrations from someone who just wants his thoughts to be considered.
“But that’s not how the world is — it is made of different people with different views. And Malawi will not stop moving forward because one is not happy.
“At the end the question is, why do we need a cabinet? How do we determine its effectiveness — at its composition stage or results/outcomes level?” he questioned.
Anganile Edward Ngwira also does not agree with Chirwa’s assertions made so far.
“You cite appointment of looters and political hegemony. I am really lost here, is cabinet a political team or not? There is a political manifesto that has to be implemented and requires political players who understand that vision.
“You suggested a seasoned diplomat for foreign office, that’s a good idea but we have Mkaka now a novise with youthful exuberance, a clean slate to learn the new vision.
“We have Gaffar in mining, he has a proven record of a smart entrepreneur, hey he owns a cement company — give him a chance.
“Your critique is emotional and we understand we all contributed to the struggle, it is a proven fact that a team of stars is the worst team. Team dynamics calls for formation of a team that has a good balance of stars and weak links.
“I hope you are not suggesting that Chakwera and Chilima are not stars. In fact, Sidik Mia is a proven star in the portfolio he is holding.
“Are you now backtracking on Titus Mvalo and Timothy Mtambo? What about Michael Usi and Gospel Kazako, Vera Kamtukule? Please advise on an ideal team, professor”.
Chandiwira Chisi said: “Many will not agree with you, Danwood, not because they don’t agree but are shell shocked to react:
In his own post, Onjezani Kenani simply said: “With water, irrigation, environment, persons with disability, gender and disaster preparedness all not falling under any ministry, it still became necessary to create an entirely useless ministry called the ‘ministry of civic education and national unity’ — shaking my head.”