The argument by a majority of those faulting the new Cabinet is that the President should not have appointed people from the same families. The most important consideration should not be whether or not they are related. But rather whether they have the requisite credentials for the job? Can they deliver? The people in question so far are—Sidik Mia and his wife—Abida. Others are Ken Kandodo and his sister Khumbize Chiponda. Then yet others are in-laws—Gospel Kazako and Agnes Mkusa- Nkhoma.
In coming up with the Cabinet, the President considered many issues. Some of the issues are the roles people played in the fight for a Malawi for all, gender and regional balance. Who was around when the fight got tense?
On the appointment of people from same families, it looks like Malawians have learnt one or two lessons from former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika. He had his brother—Peter Mutharika—as a Cabinet minister during his second term. Going by academic credentials alone, Peter was well qualified to be in Cabinet. But he failed dismally as minister of foreign affairs and education. Bingu could not control him. At the height of the Academic Freedom saga, Peter disappeared to the US for three months for no known reasons to justify his stay abroad.
I will not talk about Bakili Muluzi who also had both the late George Nga Ntafu and his wife, Elvey, in his Cabinet. Was there any problem?
Some have said it would be difficult for Chakwera to fight corruption with families in the Cabinet. Others have said giving Cabinet positions to relatives is nepotism or cronyism. That it is the same evil we thought Malawi has just done away with. All these arguments have some merit. But there is another perspective to the issue.
A campaign is a fight to move from point A to point B or even C. The campaign to dislodge the former government was the first step towards taking Malawians to the ‘promised land’. Who was in this fight? And who did what? These are people who, as some people have already said, got dirty, risked their lives and jobs. But they were passionate to deliver the issues they promised the people.
With the DPP dislodged, the Tonse Alliance (herein after just called Tonse) is now at point B. But they have not yet arrived in the ‘promised land’ which is point C. Point C includes giving people cheap fertilizer, three meals a day, one million jobs et cetera. What has happened is that on reaching point B, they have acquired the means to enable them to fulfill their manifestos. It makes sense that the two top Tonse leaders—Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima—should first look to the same people within the ranks who got dirty with them to get to point B. This is the winning team which kept faith with their leaders. It is the team which has the passion for and believes in the Tonse ideology and is ready to deliver Tonse’s vision. It is the team Tonse has built trust and confidence in. Why change now? Why look elsewhere now?
It is not enough to have a PhD or a string of degrees to be drafted into the Cabinet. If you want recognition and a position in the Cabinet, join the leaders while they are on the rough terrain where it is most scary. This is what I see from the likes of the Mias, Kandodo and his sister. The argument about Kazako and Agnes Mkusa-Nkhoma has no merit.
Nellie Joseph [Kusali Kubwalo] seemed to have red my mind when she wrote on her facebook page on Thursday as we went to press: “We all had no problem when Mrs Mia and her husband were campaigning. Now we have problems with both of them being trusted with portfolios. We all had no problems when people lost their jobs and opportunities for merely associating with the opposition.”
Let us be patient. We should give Chakwera time to prove that his faith in his first Cabinet is a misnomer.