President Peter Mutharika has created a Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events, increasing the number of ministries from 20 to 21.
A memo dated February 17 2020, signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, informs all principal secretaries, heads of independent and constitutional bodies, and parastatal chief executive officers that the new ministry is with effect from February 12 2020.
It reads in part: “I write to inform you that His Excellency the President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has directed that a new ministry, to be called ‘Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events’ be created with effect from February 21, 2020.”
The ministry, initially a department attached to the Office of the Vice-President whose minister was Everton Chimulirenji, comes barely two weeks after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election and reinstated Saulos Chilima as State Vice-President.
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani in an interview yesterday said the President has not yet announced the minister .
Said Botomani: “The new ministry has been created due to persistent disasters in the country. The President has powers to create a ministry or dissolve Cabinet anytime he wants to do so.”
Reacting on the creation of the ministry, governance commentator Rafiq Hajat observed that despite the President having the prerogative to create ministries, each ministry has a cost impact on the budget.
He questioned Mutharika’s logic to create a new ministry when the country is expected to hold fresh election within a few months.
After his re-election last year, Mutharika promised that he would maintain a 20-member Cabinet.
On February 3, a five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise nullified the presidential election in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and directed that a fresh election be held within 150 days from the day of the judgement.
The court also reinstated Chilima as State Vice-President replacing Chimulirenji.