PP’s Mkandawire says Mutharika favours Lhomwes, shafts northerners

Former ruling People’s Party (PP) deputy leader in parliament, Harry Mkandawire has accused President Peter Mutharika for his selection of the cabinet, saying it  displays the rise of ethnic politics with the predominance of southern region  [Lhomwe people] which he noted raises doubts about Mutharika’s nationalism.

The outspoken Mzimba west MP noted that out of 20-member cabinet, Mutharika has picked 15 ministers from the southern region mostly his kinsmen Lhomwe people.

Fifteen ministers out 20 are from the Southern Region and most of them from one tribal group. There can be no other case of nepotism and tribalism than this,” said Mkandawire, accsuing  Mutharika of regional and ethnic favouritism.

He said “regionalism is evil” while stressing that “Malawi belongs to everyone.”

Mkandawire: Cabinet has shown Muthariks's naked regionalism
Mkandawire: Cabinet has shown Muthariks’s naked regionalism

Prominent Lhomwes in cabinet include former secretary to treasury Joseph Mwanamveka, as Minister of Trade and Industry, Henry Mussa as labour minister, Patricia Kaliati who is heading the ministry of gender, children, disability and social welfare.

Others are Kondwani Nankhumwa in information, tourism and civic education; George Chaponda minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation; Emmanuel Fabiano who was assigned the education, science and technology portfolio and Allan Chiyembekeza who will be responsible for agriculture and irrigation.

For a leader to give more importance to their territorial region in comparison to other parts of the nation also compromises development. We know DPP as a government of quotas; why can’t you do the same in selecting ministers?” wondered Mkandawire.

On Monday, DPP lawmaker Wakuda Kamanga also noted in parliament that Mutharika has only appointed one minister from the central region- Dr Jean Kalilani for heath.

But leader of government in parliament, Francis Kasaira, dismissed Mkandawire’s statement, arguing that president’s “prerogative in appointing ministers cannot be questionable.”

Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe is also on record faulting the President on regional balance of his Cabinet.

He noted that most of the ministers chosen are from the Southern Region and this could hinder development.

Critics have also noted the gender aspect that there is low number of women representation in the Cabinet appointments.

The NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) head Emma Kaliya said they are “disappointed” with appointment of only three women ministers who are Kalilani, Kaliati and Grace Chiumia.

Mkandawire is not new in critiquing on tribalism. He was director of political affairs and governor of north for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) but was fired and arrested for sedition in 2009 after he criticised late President Bingu wa Mutharika for promoting tribalism by championing a controversial university quota system.

He wrote a critical open letter which was posted on Nyasa Times in October 2009 questioning late Mutharika’s endorsement of the system in which students were selected for university on the basis of district or region rather than merit.

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