JB’s first Malawi Cabinet through Chihoro Eyes

Its 22 ministers and 8 deputies, 9 women in cabinet of 31: Great! The new Malawi President promised a broad-based and inclusive Cabinet. Thumbs up!

By the way, I still believe we can have a cabinet of only 10 Ministers and 5 Deputies (comprising 10 women and 5 men). Perhaps that is the goal PP Government should set. It makes Malawi sense.

Double Thumbs up because none of the “Midnight Six” are in the team. That is a smart move.

Personally, I would have been very disappointed if any of the midnight six had been retained. Forgiveness does not mean shoving history under the carpet. Midnight Six and their masters need to tell Malawians what led to the “Easter Madness”. How do we believe that it was “confusion and stupidity” when we do not know what led to the confusion and stupidity? Surely we have all lost our loved ones and I dare ask, what acts did we do which could be labeled as confusion and stupidity? I just see greed and lack of accountability. Let the “Midnight Six” show their love for, and faithfulness to Malawi by revealing what actually happened?

Malawi leader Joyce Banda

The Cabinet will be as good as the system in which the players will operate. The men and women appointed are human beings and some of those appointed were part of mess and abuse years back. That is not to suggest they don’t deserve another chance. But if they will be allowed to operate in the same system-less Government or porous system, if they will still operate as “masters rather than servants”, if they will not allow civil service to be professional, if they will retain a system of patronage through tribal affiliation, language, sect, religion of other means, if they will be forgiven before telling the nation what they should be forgiven for, ….., I dare say, we would have taken 1 step forward and 3 steps backwards, and we will be back screaming and complaining of betrayal.

What we now need is for the Ministers to sign a “contract” with Malawians. Ministers should be accountable to Malawians and they should sign a pact that makes them accountable to Malawians. They should tell us what their Ministries will achieve (outcomes and not outputs). My hope is that they will be put through a “training programme” not the “silly familiarization tours” but should be trained and given “Ministerial Standards”. Why did we create MIM after all? This is important because, unfortunately we have “old dogs” with “old tricks” and these will bring their misguided understanding of the meaning of “Honourable Minister” (driven in black Mercedes Benz and grab as much as you can from the system).

We also have “young dogs” and these watched from the outside and believe being “Honourable Minister” is what they saw and heard. Once standards are set and they have signed “a contract” we will have a measure through which we can call them to account. If they are called to account and they fail the test, they should resign or be fired.

Since in politics there are no permanent enemies and compromises can easily be made especially as we come towards elections, we need to have real “Chief Executives” of watchdog organisations such as Anti-Corruption Bureau and others that are independent and accountable to the people of Malawi. These CEOs will need guaranteed tenure and resources.

My one proposal to new Cabinet is that they need to re-engage with people in diaspora. Malawi has many needs that those in diaspora can play a role in meeting those needs. Whereas the current dotted Malawi Associations  [and Malawi Diaspora Forum] are great for social interaction, Government needs to encourage people in diaspora to form meaningful professional “intelligentsia networks” that will feedback to Government on various opportunities. This could include in areas of science and technology, education, health, partnerships, markets for products, human resources, business, investors, bilateral relations etc. Such engagement will automatically make people in diaspora feel closer to Malawi and will stimulate the flow of remittances.

The appointment of professional and visionary High Commissioners and diplomats is critical. I wish HE. JB and her newly appointed Cabinet every success. Your success is our success

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