Political commentators have observed that frequent Cabinet reshuffles are creating instability and duplication of responsibilities for some ministries and departments which affects their efficiency.
The observation follows President Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday which saw him moving around five of his ministers and two deputies.
Reacting to the reorganisation, the commentators said some sectors are suffering because of the movements due to lack of linkages with the ministries they are assigned to.
For instance, over the years the departments of sports, culture, youth and tourism, have remained unstable and main casualties because of their regular shifts.
In the reshuffle, Mutharika disbanded the Ministry of Sports and Culture and transferred the two sectors to ministries of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development and Civic Education, Culture and Community Development respectively.
Besides, the Ministry of Civic Education has the community development, local government has rural development while Lands Housing has urban development.
“There is need for proper segregation. Why should we have separate ministries for urban development and rural development when we already have community and all these are communities,” queried Mustapha Hussein, a University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College (Chanco) political scientist.
Another Chanco political analyst, Joseph Chunga, observed these reshuffles have serious implications in terms of efficiency and realignment of the sectors because authorities do not know where to place them.
“The reshuffles expose failure in defining different sectoral priorities and categorisation of the sectors,” he said.
He added: “The whole essence of defining a particular department is because you assume it has a particular mandate to address in as far as government structure is concerned and if you find cases where you have what could have been very related sectors of functional dimensions split in different departments then you wonder what is government really trying to achieve.”
Mutharika last reshuffled his Cabinet in April when he fired Allan Chiyembekeza, former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
Several others were just moved around.
But another Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa observed that reshuffles in the country do not mean anything to the citizenry because they are not oriented to enhance government machinery performance.
“Ministries are structured mostly to respond to political expediency than to developmental needs. But one would want to see structures that respond to developmental needs.
“I think so often than not when new governments come into power they structure to accommodate political interests. That’s why you see departments or ministries frequently changing hands for the political class to accommodate itself within the public purse,” said Thindwa.
He said a cabinet reshuffle is supposed to be done if the incumbent is not performing or is seems to be shifting from the original policy position than that of the president.
“Unfortunately reshuffles in Malawi have not responded on the basis of underperformance or shift in terms of policy position,” he said. n