The State House says President Lazarus Chakwera is still reviewing the assessment of his Cabinet before making fresh appointments, saying he wants to do a thorough job on the review process.
Speaking at the State House fortnightly media briefing at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre yesterday, the President’s executive assistant and State House director of communication Sean Kampondeni said Malawians should be patient on the matter.
He said since Chakwera said he would be attaching the performance reports to the Cabinet ministers’ assessments, he is trying to add value to the review assessment process.
Said Kampondeni: “He [Chakwera] reviewed the Cabinet after six months. The President then stated in his November statement when the ministers signed performance contracts that he was going to add the performance contracts and terms thereof of the review process.
“I really don’t understand why the President saying he is going to add something to a process he is going to do suddenly means he is not honouring his promise.”
S p e a k i n g wh e n Cabinet ministers signed performance contracts at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe last November, Chakwera said he would use the performance contracts to assess their quarterly performance.
The President said: “I want all of you who are members of Cabinet to know that the terms of these contracts will form part of your evaluation during the first quarter of the new year.
“Malawians have no appetite for keeping in office government officials who have no interest in effecting the reforms.”
However, in April this year, Chakwera said he needed more time to review the assessments and subsequent responses from State House officials have been premised on the fact that issues are President’s prerogative.
But Kampondeni yesterday said the President is keen on having a better and thorough process of the review on the assessments.
He also said by saying he will review the assessments, the President did not mean that he would have to reshuffle the Cabinet but rather making room for improvements.
Kampondeni also faulted critics that have been adding their voices on calls for Chakwera to reshuffle the Cabinet based on poor assessment, saying most have been misquoting the President.
“The President said that he was going to review his Cabinet. He did not say he is going to reshuffle the Cabinet,” he said.
But in a telephone inter view yesterday, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) political analyst Chrispine Mphande faulted Chakwera for making a promise on reviewing the Cabinet within a specific timeframe when he knew he would not manage.
He said: “These are the things that the Tonse Alliance administration has failed to do. In my view, the promise by the President was triggered by people’s reactions following the appointment of family members into Cabinet. So, perhaps, he wanted to play down those reactions by the public.”
Mphande said Malawians will eventually lose trust in the President since he signals that it is hard for him to keep promises that he made.
In a separate interview, University of Malawi’s political science lecturer Mustapha Hussein said the President rushed in giving a specific timeframe on the assessment.
On his part, politician-cum – commentator Humphrey Mvula said despite being the prerogative of the President to hire and fire Cabinet members, Chakwera’s promise was a miscalculated move.
“We can say he is a leader going through a learning curve or who has poor judgement of the political terrain. We can also say these are normal teething problems any new leader goes through,” he said.
Meanwhile , various stakeholders, including the quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) have asked Chakwera to trim his Cabinet based on poor performance and maintain a lean one.
On his part, Cama executive director John Kapito on Friday said there is poor performance among ministers while PAC publicity secretary Gilford Matonga said they want the President to maintain a lean Cabinet as promised during campaign.
In the run-up to the 2019 elections, PAC met presidential candidates and each one of them made some commitments. Chakwera, who was Malawi Congress Pa r t y (MCP) torchbearer, made 19 promises which included a lean Cabinet of between 14 and 19 members.
However, upon assuming power as candidate of the nine political-party Tonse Alliance in the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election, Chakwera hired a 32-member Cabinet which also fell short of the 40:60 gender representation.