A church cleric has told President Peter Mutharika to fire all his presidential aides to save money as the country reels from harsh economic climate in recent memory.
Reverend Zacheaus Kawalala said at the just ended Public Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting that the President needs to walk the talk on financial prudence by firing the over a dozen presidential advisors and assistants whom he said are a drain on the public purse.
The government is yet to respond to the call but senior cabinet ministers inCluding Finance minister Goodall Gondwe, Justice minister Samuel Tembenu, Information minister Jappie Mhango and Gender minister Patricia Kaliati listened attentively as Kawalala articulated his argument.
The cleric said the role of the advisors can easily be filled in by cabinet ministers and other senior government officials.
Previously, Mhango had said cabinet ministers and presidential advisors have two different roles, saying cabinet ministers are political heads of ministries whilst the advisors are neutral independent public officers.
Presidential advisors are entitled 500 litres of fuel a month (about K400 000), a vehicle which they drive themselves, medical scheme and airtime, free water, free electricity, DStv subscription at a combined cost of almost K300 000 ($434), including a driver and guard who are also allocated about K100 000 ($145) on top of a salary of close to K1.6 million ($2 312), which translates to K25.6 million ($36, 994.21) a month for the 16, totalling K307 million ($443 641) annually.
Human rights activist and Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director, John Kapito, is on record expressing concern that the league of advisors will impact negatively to the austerity measures President Mutharika has been preaching.
He questioned the value they will bring to the office of the President “apart from gossip.”
Among the advisers are chief adviser on economic affairs Collins Magalasi, President brother’s widow Callista Mutharika as chief adviser on safe motherhood, population and HIV/Aids management and chief political adviser, Francis Mphepo.
Other advisers including Symon Vuwa Kaunda on national unity and parliamentary affairs, Annie Makuta (women affairs), Nick Masebo (youth) and Victor Songazaudzu Sajeni (capacity building) are on P3 grade which is equivalent to a director at a ministry.
One critic questioned what will Symon Vuwa Kaunda will be advising the President on ‘National Unity and Parliamentary Affairs’ when there is Francis Kasaira as Leader of Government business in Parliament and yet Malawi is also not experiencing tribal or regional disconnect that the country needed someone to unite us. Besides, Vuwa is not even an MP.
Other presidential aides includes Mabvuto Bamusi as special assistant responsible for the civil society and NGOs, Apostle Timothy Khoviwa as adviser on religious affairs.
There are also, personal assistant on international relations, deputy personal assistant on international relations, special assistant to the First Lady, executive and special assistant on capacity building.
And President Mutharika added to the list of his advisors the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) long-time spin-doctor Hetherwick Ntaba as domestic policy adviser and moved out Bright Malopa who was adviser to the President on communication and strategy . Malopa has been deployed to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority ( Macra) as adviser on broadcasting.
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