JB hailed for trimming Malawi cabinet from 36 to 32: Mutharika had 41-member cabinet

President Joyce Banda has been hailed for living to her billing of a “listening leader” for trimming her cabinet  after she named on Monday a 32-member Cabinet down from 36 portfolios , a further reduction from over 40 when she took over power after the death of late president Bingu wa Mutharika last April.

Political commentators welcomed lean structure .

One of the issues raised in a six point petition by the organizers of demonstrations under the leadership of the Consumers association of Malawi (CAMA), was that President Banda should reduce the cabinet. The also wanted Banda to reduce foreign and local trips, and sell  the presidential jet.

Banda has already sold the presidential jet.

Economic commentator Collen Kalua of the University of Malawi, said it is expected that the lean cabinet would be “ more efficient.”

President Dr Joyce Banda: Cost-cutting
President Dr Joyce Banda: Cost-cutting

He said:  “Savings to be made for a year for the cabinet reduction will be enormous.”

Another University of Malawi political commentator Blessings Chinsinga commended President Banda for a lean administration, saying she was walking-the-talk on austerity measures.

Chinsinga said  trimming the cabinet is “a very positive development”.

He said the move will be a cost-cutting measure “coming at the right time looking at the fact that we are starting a new financial year.

Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) Executive Director  Dalitso Kubalasa said trimming the cabinet “ is a good place to begin to reduce tax burden on the poor.”

President  Banda announced a new cabinet  Monday  with a reduced number of portfolios from 36 to 32 and roped in firebrand politician Brown Mpinganjira as new Minister of Water Development and Irrigation.

The appointment of Mpinganjira back into cabinet is widely seen as an attempt by the president to drum up support in Mulanje-Thyolo-Phalombe districts ahead of next year polls.

Mpinganjira is regarded as one of the few most powerful politicians in the Lhomwe belt and has held various government portfolios since multiparty dispensation.

The President dropped Prof. Peter Mwanza as the Minister of Agriculture. Mwanza has been replaced by a new face  Dr James Munthali – a former CEO of Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET).

Other major casualties in  the new cabinet include Ritchie Muheya who has been replaced by Mpinganjira, Jennifer Chilunga who was at Environment and Climate Change Management where he has been replaced by Halima Daudi, and Mkhwauli Msiska formally deputy for Economic Planning has been given the boot.

In the new Cabinet, Banda has trimmed down the number of deputy ministers from 11 to seven which include Economic Planning; Environment and Climate Change Management; Gender, Children and Social Welfare; and that for Transport and Public Works.

The changes in the deputies has also seen Chimango Mughogho and Augustine Mtendere being completely dropped while Godfrey Kamanya who was deputy for Environment and Climate Change Management has been moved to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as deputy while Agness Chatipwa from Gender has been moved to deputise Minister of Health.

All other portfolios including those being held by the President and her vice Khumbo Kachali have remained unchanged.

Malawi’s flagship daily newspaper, The Nation on Tuesday also hailed President Banda for taking “heed of calls to reduce the size of her Cabinet while the economy remains in a state of recovery from the near-collapse of early last year.”

The paper said in its editorial: “ While some may say it has come rather late given that the economy is in better shape now than it was when she maintained a bigger team, the gesture must still be commended and appreciated.”

President Banda hired her first all-inclusive cabinet in April last year after she took power following the death of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

She made her first cabinet reshuffle nine months later when she dropped, among others, Dr Cassim Chilumpha who was Minister of Energy.

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