There is mixed reaction to the newly hired ministers as President Peter Mutharika has lived up to his campaign pledge to appoint a lean cabinet of 20, instead of the 40 (ministers and deputy ministers) by previous administrations.
The talking point has been the appointment of Atupele Muluzi of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), who came a distant fourth in the 20 May elections.
Muluzi, the 35-year-old son of former president Bakili Muluzi – the only opposition member in the 20-man cabinet – becomes Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Minister.
A combination of ministries has seen President Mutharika, who by virtue of being president is also the Commander-n-Chief of Malawi’s Armed Forces, has given himself the Ministry of Defence and his deputy Saulos Chilima also the Minister responsible for the Civil Service, Disaster Management, Public Events and Statutory Corporations.
Former Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka is now Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development…
Outspoken former Information Minister Patricia Kaliati is the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare and former Secretary to the Treasury Joseph Mwanamveka becomes Trade and Industry Minister.
A political scientist at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, Ernest Thindwa, described as surprising Muluzi’s acceptance to serve as cabinet minister in DPP’s regime saying it has put his party at a spot.
“What (Atupele) Muluzi has done is a disservice to his party. How can he position his party as a junior party in the country as to be behind other parties? It is like the UDF has no agenda,” said Thindwa adding; “UDF will pay dearly for this move as it will have difficulties convincing potential voters in 2019 as an independent party.”
Whilst welcoming the inclusion of news faces Thindwa also faulted the inclusion of former ministers in the former government of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, saying there is going to be continuity of the same policies that have hurt the country’s politics and economy,
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Dr. Jesse Kabwila has told local radio MIJ FM that she was short of words to qualify the cabinet as government of national unity, saying it is simply a reshuffling of the old guard.
Said she: “I have problems describing the cabinet as government of national unity. I even have questions on the appointment of UDF president Atupele Muluzi as to whether this is what we can call government of national unity.”
Kabwila has also faulted president Mutharika for failing to champion women empowerment by only appointing three women in the twenty member cabinet saying it leaves a lot to be desired.
She accused the DPP government of driving whilst looking in the rear view mirror in its appointments.
Edge Kanyongolo, associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, backed a lean cabinet, saying it eliminate “wastage and patronage.”
These are the reasons, according to Kanyongolo, that participants to a Constitutional Conference of February 1995 cited when they proposed to limit the Cabinet to 24 members and require Parliament to approve any excess.
He lamented that this resolution has not been implemented to date because so far all succeeding Presidents have been influenced by political considerations, as opposed to national imperatives, when setting up a cabinet.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :