Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has urged President Lazarus Chakwera to trim his Cabinet to 20 from 33 to reflect seriousness of austerity measures.
In a statement released on Saturday, Cama executive director John Kapito also said the President should reduce the number of vehicles on his convoy and that of police officers on duty.
The demands follow the announcement by new Secretary to the President and Cabinet Col leen Zamba that ministries, departments and agencies should not conduct meetings outside Capital Hill or their respective duty stations as a measure to cut spending.
But in a letter dated June 10 2022 addressed to Zamba, Kapito said in addition to the outlined cost-cutting measures, government should ensure accountability by among others putting in place a designated Parliamentary Committee responsible for scrutinising delegations for the President and his deputy.
Reads Cama’s letter: “While we thank the President for the measures, we think the additions can add value. We request government to provide figures that will be realised alongside each cost-cutting measure, to come up with monthly public meetings that will discuss and inform Malawians on any savings as a result of these cost-cutting measures.”
Zamba yesterday said she was yet to see Cama’s letter, as such, could not comment.
“Maybe I might find the letter when I get to the office,” she said.
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira agreed with Kapito on calls to reduce the Cabinet and fleet of cars.
“It will demonstrate the President’s commitment to the austerity measures. There is need for action and the Presidency must be seen to share the pain too,” he said.
Kapito further urged Chakwera to come up with cost-cutting measures for the Judiciary and Legislature, reduce the number of embassies to 10 and reduce the number of staff in all embassies.
Former president Peter Mutharika, voted out during the court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election held on June 23 2020, maintained a 20-member Cabinet. However, Chakwera has faced a tough balancing act to incorporate members of Tonse Alliance, a coalition of nine political parties, namely MCP, UTM, People’s Party, PPM, Alliance for Democracy (Aford), Malawi Forum for Unity and Development, Umodzi Party, People’s Transformation Party (Petra) and Freedom Party.