Malawi’s most influential quasi-religious organization – the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) – has criticized the Tonse Alliance administration for its blatant failure to provide direction on the mitigation of economic hardships emanating from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Committee has also rebuked President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera for presiding over a government that has allowed nepotism and selective justice to flourish.
PAC Chairperson Monsignor Dr. Patrick Thawale made the sentiments on Tuesday during a during a follow-up interface meeting Chakwera at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
“With due respect to explanations on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and its implications on the economy Your Excellency, the public view seems to suggest that the administration lacks direction on the mitigation of economic hardship. We believe that in this area relevant Ministries that have a bearing on economic development ought to be aggressive in communicating to the public. It seems they have distanced themselves from their rightful role. Your Excellency may consider to package properly the information on economy to be imparted to the public, and your Cabinet Ministers ought to be in the forefront to defend and justify the economic status. This brings us to the next aspect we are following up,” said Thawale.
The fearless PAC chairperson also highlighted Chakwera’s hypocrisy in tackling nepotism, stressing that questions continue to linger among well-meaning Malawians on how the President’s daughter’s posting to the Malawi Embassy in the United Kingdom and the appointment of son-in-law Sean Kampondeni, who doubles functions as Personal Assistant as well as Director of Communications, compounds the situation.
Thawale challenged that that “even if these officials have competences, this is Malawi, Your Excellency, the public will never trust you especially that those participating in this allegedly nepotism are in the Office of the Presidency.”
“Your moral standing becomes diluted,” he said.
While commending Chakwera for the positive strides registered in the drive against corruption by, among others, letting ACB and other enforcement agencies to arrest Cabinet ministers and the presidential aide, Thawale observed that “contradictions have emerged in the manner Chakwera’s administration has treated former Minister of Energy, Newton Kambala, and Minister of Lands, Hon. Kezzie Msukwa, on allegation of corruption as compared to the way you fired Minister of Labour, Hon. Ken Kandodo.”
He said recent developments on the fight against corruption have cast doubt on Chakwera’s political will to deal with corruption in Malawi.
“Media stories on the investigation by British and Malawi officials into businessman Zuneth Sattar appears greater in size which could undermine the integrity of the current administration. Your Excellency may consider avoiding the use of selective justice in treating cabinet Ministers – especially on issues you are able to make decisions,” he said.
PAC also demanded that President Chakwera should fire Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC), Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi, and other senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The Committee further recommended that the Tonse Alliance administration should “consider a review exercise which could guide the direction of Affordable Input Programme in terms of its sustainability or define its exit strategy in light of the budgetary constraints we face as a nation.”
It also advised Chakwera to reshuffle his Cabinet within three months.
“Your Excellency, understand us right. We would like to collaborate with you where we feel you are doing the right things. Secondly, in no way, we hate anybody in their personal capacity. Your Excellency, governments run on taxpayers money. Therefore players in democratic governance have every right to hold you accountable. Let us call spade a spade today, Your Excellency reshuffle the Cabinet and appoint competent Secretary to the President and Cabinet. Consider changes in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well, for there seems to be reputational challenges. In fact, the current Cabinet seems to be a spectator in their leadership style. A number of them lack gravitas and influence. For instance, this is the time those occupying rightful roles in economic arena should have been in the forefront of translating and explaining measures to mitigate economic hardship. Their silence is loud enough. We kindly call upon Your Excellency to consider reshuffling the Cabinet within three months. The public patience is running thin.
“Your Excellency, the current term of office is five years. Swift decision- making process is required. Indecisiveness on reshuffling the Cabinet, the revelations that your daughter assumed duties at the Embassy in UK, failure to make public Public Sector Systems Review Report submitted to you by the Vice President, and failure to fire Ministers allegedly involved in corruption as you acted on Hon. Ken Kandodo has led Malawians to brand your leadership as tainted with lies and corruption,” said Thawale.
“Your Excellency, although in the introductory part we appreciated your open door policy to dialogue with us and others, it should not be interpreted that PAC will continue holding dialogue without seeing actions being taken. We would opt for second level dialogue in form of All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference with a developmental agenda should indecisiveness continue. The trust on Your Excellence has been eroded so fast as a result of your approach to decision making. In fact, you made mistakes on day one of appointing your Cabinet, coupled with failure to honour the pledge on reshuffling the Cabinet. Finally, Your Excellency, you are unique in the sense that you are the first leader in this position that requested us that we should be frank and honest with you in our dialogue exercise. Such a virtue is not common among leaders. And that is what exactly we have done today – to be frank with you,” he concluded.
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