By Duncan Mlanjira
South Africa-based Malawian Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Cape Town, Danwood Chirwa has described President Lazarus Chakwera’s 31-member cabinet named on Wednesday evening as probably the most incestuous cabinet since 1994.
Commenting on Facebook, Prof. Chirwa said: “Someone has kindly sent me a list of the full cabinet appointments by President Chakwera. I can’t help suspecting it is fake.
“If it is not, tough times still lie ahead fellow Malawians. The restructuring of government seems to have been shaped by political deals than by a concern with effective implementation of the Tonse alliance manifesto.
“Questionable characters have been handed posts, there’s is evidence of pay for play (with no lessons learnt from Mordecai Msisha), and some new dubious ministries have been created while key ones such as for gender and children affairs have been omitted,” said the Professor, who has always been critical of Malawi political and social malaise.
“The electorate voted for change, but this new cabinet lacks novelty. It is definitely uninspiring, if not disappointing.
“The first cabinet was meant to send a clear message to all and sundry that patronage, corruption and looting will end, that those who have looted before will be investigated and prosecuted, and that new, clean and competent people will lead Malawi.
“By this measure the new cabinet, if not fake, fails to meet the cut. How can one talk of being serious about corruption, yet cashgate masterminds and beneficiaries are part of government?
“Who are the shining lights in this cabinet? This is probably the most incestuous cabinet since 1994. I would score it 30%, with 50% being the pass mark.”
31-member comprises 23 full ministers and 8 deputies and has 16 Members of Parliament. The other appointments coming from various sectors.
The President has named UTM Party Vice-president, Michael Usi as Minister of Tourism, Culture & Wildlife and former minister in the Democratic progressive Party (DPP) regime but now Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice-president, Sidick Mia as minister of Transport and Public Works.
Mia’s wife, Abida has also been rewarded with a post of Deputy Minister of Lands while son to former President Joyce Banda, Roy Kachale Banda is Minister of Industry.
Nancy Tembo, daughter-in-law of former MCP president John Tembo, as Minister of Forestry & Natural Resources.
Former Minister of Finance under the Bingu wa Mutharika’s DPP administration, Ken Kandodo has been named as Minister of Labour, while Rashid Gaffar, who also once served as deputy Minister under Bingu has returned as Minister of Mining.
The president has also appointed secretaries general for Patricia Kaliyati (UTM) and Eisenhower Mkaka (MCP) as Minister of Community Development & Social Welfare and Minister of Foreign Affairs respectively.
The notable non-politicians in the Cabinet include Managing Director for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), Gospel Kazako, who has been named as Minister of Information.
Kazako’s sister-in-law Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma has been named as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Former chairperson for Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Timothy Mtambo is Minister of Civic Education and National Unity while and lawyer Titus Mvalo is Minister of Justice.
The President has also named Dr. Wilson T. Banda to replace Dr. Dalitso Kabambe as Reserve Bank Governor; John Bizwick as Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General and Dokani Ngwira as Director General for the National Intelligence Service.
Reacting to Professor Chirwa comment, Laurence Juma said: “Hopefully, there will be a strong opposition” but the Prof. would have none of it, saying “the opposition is made up of crooks. By the look of things we replaced crooks with a new bunch of crooks.”
But Patrick Baziwelo defended the President, saying: “Honestly, the cabinet has the capacity to deliver their ministerial roles and that’s all what matters. We can talk about the ties later.”
Schulbz van Koleka said this makes Mordecai Msisha a very wise man beyond the wisdom we held about him to which Mbachi Joyce Ng’oma responded: “He must have known this was to come and didn’t want to be part of it!”—Additional reporting by Morton Sibale, MANA