The first set of Malawi’s new slimmed down Cabinet was sworn in on Thursday as President Peter Mutharika signalled a renewed drive to have transformational leadership with technocrats running the administration that is committed to development and zero-tolerance to corruption.
Mutharika on Thursday named half of his 20-member cabinet, nearly a month after the chaotic elections that brought him to office.
The ministers took the oath of office and allegiance at Mtunthama State Lodge in Lilongwe which was presided over by Clerk to the Cabinet Earnest Kantchentche.
President Mutharika challenged the newly appointed ministers to perform above board as rather servants than bosses of the Malawians.
He issued a stern warning to the ministers against wrongful self-enrichment and abuse of office.
The Malawi leader said he will not hesitate to fire and prosecute a minister involved in corrupt, ‘cashgate’ or fraudulent practices.
“You must protect public resources and don’t get anything extra,” he advised.
Mutharika maintained that his anti-corruption stance means there will be no sacred cows or untouchable, saying “the full force of the law will take its course, and I don’t care who it is.”
He also said Ministers should either agree to Cabinet decisions or be part of the same and if they disagree and not party to the decision, they should feel free to abdicate from their portfolios.
“As Cabinet Ministers you are expected to agree to the decisions made by the cabinet and if you are not part of the decisions, you better resign,” advised Mutharika.
He said his “prerogative” appointment of ministers was based on individual background and training and that they should be servants of the people and not masters.
“Your appointment does not mean you are the best out of the 14 million-plus Malawians out there,” said Mutharika, “You are just lucky that your potential has been identified. Be loyal not to me but to the people of this country who are your masters.”
Mutharika, who two weeks ago tapped former finance minister Goodall Gondwe to resume his position, has brought back several other old faces, including Henry Mussa as labour minister and Jean Kalilani to take care of health.
The President picked another former minister, George Chaponda, to man the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation.
The four once served as ministers in the 2004 and 2009 cabinets of Mutharika’s sibling, Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in 2012.
New faces in the cabinet include Francis Kasaira who is taking care of transport and public works, and Kondwani Nankhumwa in information, tourism and civic education.
Others are Emmanual Fabiano who was assigned the education, science and technology portfolio, and Allan Chiyembekeza who will be responsible for agriculture and irrigation.
Grace ‘Obama’ Chiumia was given the ministry of youth, sports and culture, while lawyer Samuel Tembenu is the new justice and constitutional affairs minister.
A presidential spokesman, Justice Mponda, told Nyasa Times that the rest of the 20-member cabinet will be announced at the weekend.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :