The presidency of Peter Mutharika gained a lot economically but lost politically.
President Peter Mutharika 2014 campaign of a 20 member Cabinet won hearts of thousands of Malawians. It is a campaign pledge he has fulfilled 100% throughout his first five-year first term, even the nine months of his second five-year term.
The President has maintained a 20-member Cabinet ever since, when he did not campaign on cabinet size in the second term.
Further, the President has maintained the 20 member Cabinet, even now when the economy has recovered: inflation is at the lowest in decades, bank lending rates have come down by more than 50%, infrastructure development is underway across the country, and public reform to enable economic growth.
In some ways, the President could justify a Cabinet of more than 20. He did not. He remained true to his campaign pledge. That honesty, that emphasis on economic growth of the country, cost Mutharika politically.
The 20 member cabinet meant APM had limited choices, especially from those areas his party, the DPP, did not get majority votes.
That pattern of voting was a challenge. How could Mutharika appoint people from such areas into the Cabinet when areas that voted for him provided enough?
Opinion leaders from areas that did not vote Mutharika want to be in Cabinet but they have not offered themselves in support of Mutharika.
That is the challenge. He who wants to be bribed must place himself on the road in which bribes are moving. Instead of supporting Mutharika, they have opposed him. Instead of looking at the national picture, they have looked at local picture.
What has Mutharika done for me? This is the question of opinion leaders among those that did not vote for the President. As we can all see, a good economy is not enough, local development is not adequate. People want to be in the Cabinet. People want their own in the Cabinet. A Cabinet position has, in a way, become a bribe to buy loyalty and support.
In his inaugural address for his second term, Mutharika said powerful words about Malawi and her future. “I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to continue serving this great nation. As I commence my second term in office, I pledge to put Malawi first and to continue advancing development as I lead a people-centred government.”
Even more powerful was his follow up two sentences: “I am committed to taking Malawi forward in the spirit of unity, peace and progress. My administration is devoted to leave no one behind.”
My administration is devoted to leave no one behind? That was about national development. But Mutharika’s administration had left some behind by maintaining a 20 member Cabinet.
It is time for Muthrika to break away from the 2014 campaign pledge. After all, the economy is a lot better than then and can sustain a 30-member Cabinet.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :