CHRR, CEDEP dare Bingu to appoint lean cabinet ‘now’

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) have added their voice to call on President Bingu wa Mutharika to expeditiously appoint a “meritorious” cabinet, having dissolved one on August 19, 2011.

The two civil society organizations express their “fears and concerns” in a joint statement made available to Nyasa Times on Sunday, as regards “the continuing delays by the President to appoint a new cabinet to supplant the one that was dissolved”.

The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) announced the dissolution of cabinet, save for the constitutional and elected offices of the President and Vice President and all ministerial duties reverted to the OPC. Since that day (August 19), government has been running business without cabinet.

Mutharika: Told to have a lean cabinet

“In our considered view, the prolonged absence of a cabinet during the time when the country is in the throes of a grave political and economic crisis is not only unacceptable, but also politically and economically suicidal,” reads the statement in part, which is signed by the two organizations’ executive directors, Undule Mwakasungula and Gift Trapence, respectively.

“Currently, there are many problems that demand urgent attention and solutions from the government and we firmly believe that the Office of the President and Cabinet cannot competently handle all issues of national interest without the technical input and support from the cabinet,” the statement added.

The two CSO leaders observe that the absence of a cabinet has created a dangerous operations vacuum which imperils the functions of the government machinery.

They also urges the Head of State to consider appointing competent and well-qualified and not mere praise-singers who have nothing to offer but sheer bootlicking, observing running government is serious business, which requires that all available portfolios are filled by credible people committed to solve the economic and political challenges “that are plaguing our country”.

“CHRR and CEDEP would also like to seize this opportunity to appeal to President Mutharika to appoint a lean and affordable cabinet for optimal consumption of taxpayers’ resources. The last time we had the 42-member cabinet which the President dissolved on 19th August was squandering million of Kwacha’s in wages,” the statement reads.

It added that Malawi as a nation cannot afford to continue with this extravagance the excess resources that were being “wasted” on operating a bloated cabinet could better be re-allocated to other priority areas that are suffering from resource gaps.

The statement takes note of presidential spokesperson Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba’s recent media remarks asserting that “the President is examining options to put up the best cabinet ever”, saying if it were true, then Malawians should expect that all future cabinets will be based solely on merit, rather than mere appeasement or “rewards for loyalty” as has been the case in the past.

“Finally, we also appeal to the President to make sure that the composition of the new cabinet does not favour any particular ethnic group or political regions. In the recent past, there has been a growing outcry over public appointments favoring people from one region. This scenario is, to say the very least, unfortunate,” the statement says, reminding the president that “he is first and foremost a Malawian and that in his role as President of this Republic he owes no obligation to one particular ethnic group but to the entire Malawian citizenry”.

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