Occupying high office of Minister is not a license to act high and mighty —Chakwera

New Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe

* The people of Malawi are your bosses, not your subjects

* You are therefore not allowed to look your noses down on them

* You are not allowed to talk down to them

* You are not allowed to brag to them about how great and powerful you are

By Duncan Mlanjira

Once politicians are given high offices such as being Cabinet Minister, they tend to change their behaviour — thinking they are above everyone else and start abusing their office.


This is what President Lazarus Chakwera tells his new Cabinet Ministers that he expects them to work humbly, that they were appointed to serve — “not to rule or boast”.

“Occupying high office is not a license to act high and mighty,” he told the Ministers at the swearing in ceremony held at Kamuzu Palace on Sunday.

“The people of Malawi are your bosses, not your subjects. You are therefore not allowed to look your noses down on them. You are not allowed to talk down to them. You are not allowed to brag to them about how great and powerful you are.

“You are not allowed to strut with pomp and circumstance. Our philosophy of leadership is servant leadership, and servant leaders listen more than they speak.

President Chakwera

“Servant leaders focus more on improving public service delivery than enjoying public service benefits. Servant leaders remain reachable and accessible to the people they serve. Servant leaders use power to improve the plight of their people, not to enrich themselves.”

He told the Ministers and their deputies that he expects his Cabinet members to work hard as they “have more work to do than there are hands to do it”.

“There is, therefore, absolutely no excuse for sloth, laziness, and procrastination. You must attend to your duties. You must fulfil your responsibilities. You must do your job.

“And when I issue a directive for your ministry to carry out, you must engage an extra gear to see that it is carried out with speed and without excuses above and beyond your regular duties.”

Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo

He also expects the Cabinet to work together, saying many of Malawi’s problems are multi-sectoral and require inter-ministerial collaboration.

“Whether it is the unprecedented devastation caused by a cyclone in the deep south of the country; or the devastation caused by CoVID-19 pandemic in disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions; or the devastation caused by unemployment and loss of income-generating activities across the economy; or the devastation caused to our governance apparatus by decades of corruption in the public service, the solutions have to be multi-sectoral, inter-ministerial, and must be implemented collaboratively.

“Do not work in silos. Do not work alone,” he said, adding that he also expects them to work ethically in the wake of some of his past Ministers who were involved in corruption.

“Do not accept a gift in exchange for using your office to give someone preferential treatment in the administration of a public service — that is corruption.

Kezzie Msukwa dropped because of corruption 

“Do not accept a payment from anyone to whom your Ministry has rendered a public service — that is corruption. Do not invent or fabricate or approve useless ministry activities in order to generate allowances for you and other public servants — that is corruption.

“Do not bully or push state institutions to pay or award a contractor from whom you stand to benefit and with whom you have business interests or shares — that is corruption.

Do not, under any circumstances or for any personal glory, violate the oath of office and related oath of secrecy you have taken, which are required by law and are designed to protect our national interests for the good of Malawi and its people — that too is corruption.

Sam Kawale, new face in the Cabinet

“Corruption comes in many forms, and the opportunities to succumb to it in this country abound, but you must resist it at every turn. Because if you do not follow the law, the law will follow you.

“And if you think that I will use my office to save you from facing a law you have broken, then you are gravely mistaken.”

He also implored on his Cabinet to work accountably — whether they belong to Malawi Congress Party, or UTM, or People’s Party, or any of the other parties in the Tonse Alliance, “you must remember that it is I who appointed you and it is to me that you report”.

“Do not become presumptuous and imagine that your appointment is attributed to someone else. I expect regular and timely reports to my office of the progress you are making, and I expect those reports to be presented to me directly and for me to be the one that directs you on whether any contents in your reports should be shared with anyone else.

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda

“My point here is simply to remind you that you are not just a Minister of Government. You are my Minister.”

He said one of the flaws of the Cabinet that he dissolved last week was “its deafening silence”, saying Malawians need to hear from their Ministers.

“They need to hear your voice. There are technocrats in your ministries whose job is to work quietly — that is not how a Minister is meant to function.

“If there is a matter of public interest that falls under your domain, it is your responsibility to stand before the Malawian people and explain it. You are not to leave all public engagement to the Minister of Information.

Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati

“If Malawians are left guessing or misinformed about the activities and achievements of your Ministry, it is you I will hold responsible.”

He ordered them to work courageously by being brave enough to confront incapacity, incompetence, corruption, and disorganization in their Ministry.

“You can’t be a Minister and think that you must run to the President to complain every time you face a challenge or obstacle with another public officer or Ministry.

“You must confront what stands in your way and find a way to overcome it. If there are people in your Ministry that are lazy or corrupt or sabotaging our agenda, confront that problem and find a legal means to address that obstacle.

Minister of Sports & Youth Chimwendo Banda

“The time when you must bring an obstacle to me is when that obstacle is within my office. After all, my office and yours are inextricably linked, which is why it is called the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“The people that work for me in that office also work for you. They are there to assist you, not to obstruct and delay you, and so you must inform me when they are acting otherwise.

“I read on the front page of the papers today that there are road construction projects that the Roads Authority under the Ministry of Transport is failing to start because of delays at OPC — that sort of thing will not be tolerated, so when it happens, you must let me know.


“If you work in a manner that reflects these seven values, there is no reason you should not succeed. On behalf of the Malawian people, I have placed my faith in your ability to facilitate the change that we promised.

Minister of Natural Resources Eisenhower Mkaka

“So go and prove to the Malawian people that you have what it takes to deliver that change in record time, for there is no time to play and no time to waste.”

The Cabinet is down by one member from the maiden 31 Chakwera appointed 17 months ago. There are now 21 full ministers and nine deputies.

Dropped from the Cabinet include former Finance Minister Felix Mlusu (replaced by Sosten Gwengwe in a merger portfolio with that of Economic Affairs); Ulemu Msungama as Sports Minister replaced by Richard Chimwendo-Banda; Rashid Gaffar from Ministry of Mining (replaced by new face in Albert Mbawala).

Followed by Chrissie Kanyasho from being deputy Minister of Health and Roy Kachale (son to former President Joyce Banda) from Minister of Industry.

Dropped Felix Mlusu

Vice-President Saulos Chilima is now left with Public Sector Reforms as the Economic Affairs portfolio has been merged into into Gwengwe’s Finance Ministry.

The six that have been dropped join beleaguered Chitipa East MP Kezzie Msukwa, who was fired over his involvement in the investigations that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is conducting over alleged corruption dealings associated with British national Zuneth Sattar.

The new full Cabinet Ministers:

* Lazarus Chakwera — Defence;

* Saulos Chilima — Public Sector Reforms;

* Sosten Gwengwe — Finance & Economic Affairs;

* Titus Mvalo — Justice;

* Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda — Health;

* Jean Sendeza — Homeland Security;

* Nancy Tembo — Foreign Affairs;

* Gospel Kazako — Information & Digitization;

* Lobin Lowe — Agriculture;

* Michael Usi — Tourism, Culture and Wildlife;

* Patricia Kaliati — Gender, Community Development & Social Welfare;

* Jacob Hara — Transport & Public Works;

* Blessings Chinsinga — Local Government;

* Vera Kamtukule — Labour;

* Abida Mia — Water & Sanitation;

* Mark Katsonga Phiri — Trade & Industry;

* Samuel Kawale — Lands;

* Eisenhower Mkaka — Natural Resources;

* Timothy Mtambo — National Unity;

* Albert Mbawala — Mining;

* Ibrahim Matola — Energy



* Monica Chang’anamuno — Education;

* Harry Mkandawire — Defence;

* Deus Gumba — Lands;

* Enock Phale — Health;

* John Bande — Water and Sanitation;

* Nancy Mdooko — Transport and Public Works;

* Halima Daudi — Local Government;

* Madalitso Kambauwa — Agriculture;

* Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma — Gender, Community Development & Social Welfare