- Fires entire Cabinet
- To rope in UDF, resolve squabbles—Analysts
President Peter Mutharika on Friday fired hisentire Cabinet, a move political analysts believe is an effort to incorporate Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) partner United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Cabinet ahead of the forthcoming presidential election.
Mutharika dissolved the Cabinet a day after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)’s, application for a stay order to stop electoral processes until the appeal case is heard.
The High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court ruled on February 3 this year nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election and ordered fresh election to be held within 150 days.
The President’s action also comes amid political bickering in his ruling party, DPP, which the party’s vice-president for the South South Kondwani Nankhumwa confirmed at the commissioning of K175 billion Shire Valley Transformation Irrigation project in the Lower Shire on Wednesday.
Presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani on Friday said the President will assemble a new Cabinet soon.
The statement released by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said Mutharika exercised the powers conferred upon him by Section 95 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi to dissolve the Cabinet with effect from March 13 2020.
Section 95 of the Constitution reads in part: “No Minister or Deputy Minister shall assume office, unless an oath or solemn affirmation was taken and executed in public in a manner prescribed by an Act of Parliament and that the President shall have the power to remove Ministers or Deputy Ministers from their posts.”
The statement further directed that following the dissolution of the Cabinet and until the appointment of a new Cabinet, all ministerial powers, functions and responsibilities shall vest in and be exercised by the President.
“OPC, therefore, appeals to the public that all queries or matters requiring the attention of Cabinet ministers should be directed to the Office of the President and Cabinet,” reads the statement.
Political analyst Joseph Chunga said apart from incorporating UDF members, the dissolution may have also been necessitated by the need to resolve internal wrangles that are reported to have rocked DPP.
“I noted that he did not immediately appoint a new Cabinet. Under normal circumstances dissolution could have come together with a new team.
He said following public pronouncements in the Lower Shire by senior member of the party Nankhumwa, it was clear that there was tension in the party.
“It is clear that some [in the previous Cabinet] will fall,” he said.
Political commentator Humphreys Mvula said the Cabinet to be appointed will be a campaign team that will be appointed to align the party to the fresh presidential elections after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an application for the court to stop electoral processes until the appeal case is heard.
“The President might wish to reconstitute the Cabinet to incorporate UDF members but at the same time try to put loyalists in Cabinet positions to resolve the party’s infighting,” he said.
But Mvula said this was an opportunity for the President to remove the ‘riff ruffs’ that were giving the President a bad name and replace them with the people that can endear the President to the people.
“This is the time to remove individuals that make him and DPP look toxic and an opportunity to rebrand. It has dawned on him that the elections are now certain following the Supreme Court ruling,” he said.