Malawi President hires new cabinet: New Finance Minister Mkwezalamba, Assani new entrant

Malawi President Joyce Banda has hired new cabinet featuring technocrats, economists and politicians after she sacked her entire 25-member cabinet in a move in response to a financial scandal at Capital Hill.

In the new cabinet, President Banda has  appointed new Finance Minister  Malawi’s renowned economist Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba to replace embattled Ken Lipenga.

Mkwezalamba served s African Union (AU)  Commissioner for Economic Affairs for close to eight years.

Before his election as AU Economic Affairs commissioner, Mkwezalamba served in Malawi and the United States of America (USA) in various capacities, including macroeconomist at World Bank, Malawi Country Office; principal secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Malawi (2000-2003); and country economist, World Bank, Washington, DC, USA in 1999.

Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba new finance minister
Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba new finance minister

In the new cabinet, President Banda has also excluded former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara and appointed  private practicing lawyer Fahad Assani who once served as Director of Public Prosecution and former deputy clerk of parliament.

The new cabinet has also seen firebrand politician Brown Mpinganjira moving to Information Minister replacing Moses Kunkuyu who has been appointed Minister of Tourism.

President has removed the post of Deputy minister of industry of trade and created  Minister in the Office of President and Cabinet.

Eunice Kazembe has been moved from Education Ministry to be Minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet Responsible for Good Governance.

Anita Kalinde who previously held the portfolio of Gender is now at Water Ministry.

Other new entrants are Mary Clara Makungwa who  has been appointed as new Gender Minister and Dr Lucius Kanyumba as Education Minister.

Most of the Ministers have retained their posts.

Other casualties are Reen Kachere  who has been replaced Rachel Kachaje (Disability Affairs) and  Eunice Makangala who is out Labour.

The cabinet was dissolved last week Thursday following a financial scandal at Capital Hill.

In one of the biggest fraud cases ever recorded in the country, the principal accountant in Office of President and Cabinet  authorised payment of one billion kwacha ($3 million) to a ghost firm, according to the state-appointed Anti-Corruption Bureau.

In another case, a junior officer who earns $100 a month was found with $25,000 cash at his house during a raid by the police.

Ten government employees have been arrested over the past two weeks on fraud charges in the so-called Capital Hill cash-gate scandal, named after the seat of government.

Last month nine senior police officers were jailed for 14 years each for fraud involving $164,000.

Prosecutors estimate that one third of Malawi’s revenue is lost to fraud and ghost workers.

Ministry of Finance Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo who was on the verge of busting a corruption ring, was last month shot and seriously wounded   by a gunman in what Banda suspects was a targetted attack to silence him.

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