Malawians, including political commentators are giving mixed reactions on the cabinet shake up on Thursday that has seen former agriculture minister Allan Chiyembekeza as the lone victim.
In an editorial comment by Malawi’s flagship newspaper, The Daily Times, the paper said the reshuffles ‘means nothing” with recycling of personalities, mostly which Times’s sister publication Sunday Times gave a failure grade in an assessment recently.
The paper noted that cabinet “failures have just been just been transferred from one ministry to another.”
It said the recycled personalities in the cabinet contribute to lack of ethical leadership and integrity on the country.
The editorial comment said “failed faces shovelled from one portfolio to the other just confirms that President Peter Mutharika has sounded himself with kitchen friends who cannot offer anything new to the development of the country.”
Chancellor College political scientist Joseph Chunga doubted if Chiyembekeza was dropped because of non performance, saying problems rocking the ministry were beyond his control.
“There are many cabinet ministers whose performance has been below par but they have been retained. I can give an example of the former minister of Information Jappie Mhango, who brought dishonour to his ministry during his tenure of office,” said Chunga.
Chunga however said though Mhango failed “miserably” as government spokesperson, he has doubts over newly appointed Minister of Information, Patricia Kaliati.
“I don’t know what the President’s judgement is , but I think Kaliati will do the same job that Mhango was doing,” said Chunga as quoted by Daily Times.
Another political scientist from University of Malawi, Boniface Dulani said if Chiyembekeza was dropped because of performance, then minister Finance Goodall Gondwe should have be shown the exit door too.
He said the shake -up will do little to help ease problems the country is facing.
Opposition parliamentarians, in the last meeting of parliament strongly called for the heads of Chiyembekeza and Health minister Peter Kumpaalume for their failure to sort the mess at their respective ministries.
Some civil rights groups were also calling for the head of Gondwe accusing him of failing to turn around the economy, saying he is too old and run out of ideas as finance minister.
Dulani said President Peter Mutharika might have spared Gondwe to continue talks with the IMF after Malawi’s surprise qualification of the extended credit facility of the global lender.
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesman Ken Ndanga, whose party president Atupele Muluzi has been retained as minister of lands and housing, said: “Cabinet is a prerogative of the President and it is pleasing though to note that President Mutharika continues to leave by his pledge of maintaining a lean cabinet.
“The changes are inevitable because there are no permanent positions in cabinet. Let those that have been retained work hard and deliver because Malawians have high expectations.”
In the shake up, Malison Ndau, former defence deputy minister is now minister of Transport and Works taking over from Francis Kasaira who has been moved to Foreign Affairs ministry whose minister, George Chaponda is heading to the messy Agriculture ministry.
Kaliati will now be at Information minister whose minister Jappie Mhango has been moved to ministry of Home Affairs where its minister, Jean Kalirani has been moved to Gender and Social Welfare ministry.--Additional reporting by Owen Khamula, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :