President Peter Mutharika on Friday suffered a political blow when Henry Chimunthu Banda turned down a Cabinet post, claiming he was never consulted before the announcement was made.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator for Nkhotakota North and former Speaker of the National Assembly confirmed his decision to privately owned and award-winning Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).
Chimunthu Banda, who once served as DPP secretary general, said he had since communicated his decision to Mutharika through the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
He said the letter to OPC also contained his gratitude to the appointing authority for considering him for the post.
Asked by ZBS whether he was notified before his appointment was made public, he said: “No, they never informed me. Probably if I had that prior information, I could have best made my excuse at that particular point but no, I was not informed.”
Chimunthu Banda, who had previously served in various ministerial positions, was appointed on Thursday into Mutharika’s bloated 32-member Cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources and Mining.
The former Speaker, however, said he remains a member of the governing DPP.
Chimunthu Banda is the third politician to publicly decline a ministerial position after former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha and another ex-Speaker of Parliament late Sam Mpasu.
Commenting on the development, University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri said the former Speaker may have assessed the situation and concluded that the appointment was not in “good faith.”
“He knows at this time there is no need to expand a Cabinet the way Mutharika had done because there are too many issues to address than bloating a Cabinet,” said Phiri.
But speaking on condition of anonymity another former Speaker of Parliament, said Chimunthu Banda may have turned down the offer after weighing the packages he is getting as former Speaker which is equivalent to that of an ex-State vice-president.
In 2014, government approved the creation of the Office of the Former Speaker whose benefits are similar to those of a former vice-president.