Outlandish developments raise questions about JB’s supposed new Cabinet

Talk is cheap they say, but talking carelessly is expensive.

Sadly our political leaders choose to talk and talk but with no action, perhaps they know that talk is nothing but cheap but what they forget is that talking carelessly is costly.

It has become a norm for our rulers to say: “I will spare no one, I will arrest anyone, I will protect no one…” They indeed talk tough but do they walk the talk and talk the walk? That is the question, for it nobler to comfortably say our leaders just talk, talk and talk to gain political mileage.

On 15th October 2013 President Joyce Banda after unceremoniously but expectedly dissolving her cabinet, announced her reshuffled cabinet. Some have chosen to call it the ‘new cabinet’. What is true is that the cabinet remained the same except for the inclusion of a technocrat Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba (finance); private lawyer Fahad Assani (Justice); political old face, Dr. Lucious Kanyumba (Education),interestingly the one who moved the motion to expel the President from DPP; activist Rachel Kachaje (Disability) and People’s party stooge Mary Makungwa (Gender).

Truth be told, the ‘reshuffle” was prompted by the ‘cash-gate’ corruption scandal. And, Malawians expected that all ministers and officers so far implicated or whose offices were directly responsible, or a department implicated, in the scandal would be fired. Some kind of collective responsibility and total cleansing, if I may add.

The ministries and departments directly involved are:  Ministry of Finance, responsible for IFMIS and payouts, Ministry of Justice, responsible for the vetting of the lawfulness or otherwise of contracts as well as enforcing the contract if there is breach on the part of government or suppliers of services or goods, Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for national security (Intelligence) Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) responsible for the Office of Director of Public Procurement(ODPP), Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Climate Change & Environmental Affairs. The Reserve Bank, responsible for government cheque payments and staff implicated cannot be left in this equation. .

This being the case, Malawians expected that the following individuals would be removed from office: Minister of Home Affairs, Uladi Mussa, the SPC Hawa Ndilowe, Director of ODPP Dye Mawindo, Minister of Tourism Rachael Mazombwe Zulu, Minister of Climate Change and Environmental, Halima Daud, Anita Kalinde and Governor of the Reserve Bank, Charles Chuka among the many faces.

It was also largely expected that all Principal Secretaries in these ministries would be interdicted pending the findings from the on-going investigations.

What is strange is that it is only the former Minister of Finance, Dr Ken Lipenga and former Minister of Justice, Ralph Kasambara, those whose ministries were allegedly directly involved that have been removed.

Even strange is why the President decided to remove Ministers: Reen Kachere and her son in law, Sam Ganda and Eunice Makangala while retaining a bed-ridden Eunice Kazembe who we are told is recuperating in South Africa.

In a bizarre development, head of the ‘Special Committee’ investigating the cash-gate scandal held a suspicious press conference to explain a warrant of arrest for Ralph Kasambara that is alleged to have  never been issued.  Is it possible that the DIG would not be aware of the warrant because it is a court warrant of arrest?

The statement has raised suspicions as to why a whole committee head would find it necessary to tell the nation that there was no warrant of arrest for  Kasambara if the warrant did not exist in the first place.

Cartoonist's impression of the looting. Photo Credit: Nation Publications Limited

Cartoonist’s impression of the looting. Photo Credit: Nation Publications Limited

I smell a rat here. A dead rat for that!

The police now say they have sent a team of detectives to South Africa to interview a victim of an offence.  To question him for what? Why he was shot or if he himself is a culprit rather than a victim?

What is it exactly that they want to hear from a man who was shot three times in the face? Has this victim fully recovered to the extent that he will be able to give an interview or be interrogated? Search me!

It now seems clear that the shifting of ministers across ministries is a calculated tactic to confuse and create the impression that there is some broader justifiable basis for the decisions other than that President Joyce Banda is simply bowing down to public pressure to remove two of her closest ministers, Ken Lipenga and Ralph Kasambara.

The ‘cash-gate’ questions are; why did President Joyce Banda had to dissolve the whole cabinet if the idea was but to get rid of a few individuals? Was she afraid to fire them?

By implication, what does this say about the sacked ministers? That they are the ones who were corrupt and involved in the cash-gate scandal? Does it mean that all those that have been retained into the cabinet are as clean as a slate?

Why would police hold a press conference with the whole deputy police chief, instead of a police public relations officer issuing a statement on the matter?  Did Kasambara’s fake arrest warrant require the whole DIG to hold a presser just to dispute that it was not true?  Since when have the law enforcers begun to hold press conferences to tell the public that a warrant of arrest has been issued for so and so or not?

It beggars belief.

One can see that even after the removal from cabinet the President is eager to protect Kasambara as witnessed by the Deputy IG Nelson Bophani’s press conference. It appears there is something about him that the President is scared of.

Something is strange indeed.

If Kasambara is not being protected then surely he is being persecuted. But either way, Ralph Kasambara is no ordinary Joe; he must be handled with care like an egg. You break him in your hands; you will have all your hands soiled, wet and smelly. He has a very strong skin; I urge all who are chasing shadows to please stop starting a war with him which you can’t finish. He is a political be a time, if mishandled there will be political suicide.

 

The question Malawians want an honest answer is; Has the president dropped from cabinet Kasambara and company because he and the other deposed ministers did wrong or is it because of the public outcry?

If the ministers that have been left out did something wrong, what is it? If not why were they hanged? We need explanation.

And now the newly appointed Justice Minister Fahad Assani has joined the fray of shilly-shally talk. He says he will prosecute anyone involved in the cash gate including close relatives of the president. We will wait and see.

There is something that needs to be answered as well. It is this: did cabinet, as a collective body, advise the President appropriately as regards how our taxes should be spent (or misappropriated, if you want to read that way?) Have we not been told before that there is a Cabinet Committee on the economy?

This is the committee that decides what should be purchased or what should not be purchased.

What did this committee, if it exists, advice our dear President on this misapplication of our taxes or this mess? If there is no such committee then the whole cabinet misadvised the President.

It should have therefore been dismissed and not rehired by way of window dressing. Some kind of ‘collective responsibility’ on the part of the Ministers.

We have been sold a dummy here in the name of a new Cabinet.

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