- LMC gets together spouses, siblings, into Cabinet representation
- LL, with 7% of population, snaps up 30% of spots
Picture this: Somewhere in the Lower Shire, under the faint glare of bedside lamps on either side of the bed, a wife and husband are reading Cabinet papers that shape the fate of a country In Kasungu, over a sumptuous meal, a brother and sister banter about what happened in the last Cabinet meeting.
But this is not just a family affair.
One district, Lilongwe, gives birth to at least a third of the Tonse Alliance Cabinet that President Lazarus Chakwera announced last night.
The Central Region alone boasts at least half of the 20 seats in the now 31-seat Cabinet room.
The President named the rest of his Cabinet after subjecting the list to “another battery of scrutiny in order to be doubly sure that we are offering Malawians a well-balanced team of high-performing servant leaders who will bring forth the fruits of our Tonse philosophy” as he put it earlier yesterday in his update explaining away his failure to meet the July 6 deadline he set for himself to announce the Cabinet.
Chakwera, who promised 40 percent women representation and no more than 30 members, has narrowly missed his target having appointed 12 female ministers, representing 38 percent of the Cabinet.
Only four females are full ministers while all eight deputy ministers are also women in the Cabinet that is predominantly Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which, with UTM Party, is leading the nine-party Tonse Alliance.
Chakwera’s running mate on the MCP ticket in the May 2019 nullified presidential election Mohammed Sidik Mia has reclaimed the Ministry for Transport and Public Works while his wife Abida is deputy in the Ministry of Lands, which is headed by former parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa.
In another family affair, two members of founding president Kamuzu Banda—Ken Kandodo and Khumbize Chiponda—shave been appointed Minister for Labour and Minister of Health, respectively.
Commander-in-chief of the Citizens Transformation Movement Timothy Mtambo, who formerly led the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) that organised street protests against the May 2019 electoral mismanagement, has been appointed Minister for Civic Education and National Unity.
In a brief interview after the announcement, Mtambo said: “I am glad with this appointment and I will deliver as required. It is time to build people-centred power. I will do as required in the interest of the people.”
Chilima’s running mate on the UTM Party ticket in the May 2019 poll, Michael Usi, is now Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife while UTM Party secretary general Patricia Kaliati is Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare.
Newton Kambala, another UTM Party member, has been appointed Minister of Energy.
MCP loyalists Lobin Lowe and Lingson Belekanyama have been appointed ministers responsible for Agriculture and Local Government, respectively.
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka is Minister of Foreign Affairs while Sosten Gwengwe is Minister of Trade.
People’s Party vice president Roy Kachale is Minister for Industry. The son of former president and People’s Party leader Joyce Banda, whose party formed the Tonse Alliance, is heading a ministry that Chakwera has split from Trade, a portfolio now under Sosten Gwengwe.
Another MCP legislator Nancy Tembo, who served as Malawi Electoral Commissioner from 2012-2016, has been appointed Minister for Forestry and Natural Resources.
There were a few surprises in the Cabinet, including veteran broadcaster and owner of multi-award winning Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) Gospel Kazako who is at the helm of Ministry of Information, making him the official government spokesperson.
Born on December 29, 1968, Kazako founded ZBS in 2005 after working for tax-payer funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. He is also a known poet and voice-over artist.
One of Chakwera’s lawyers in the presidential elections case, Titus Mvalo, has been appointed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, a portfolio that Chakwera’s lead lawyer in the case, Modecai Msisha, declined two weeks ago when the President announced a partial five-member Cabinet.
Agness Nyalonje of UTM Party heads to the Minister of Education.
Commenting on female representation, gender activist Emma Kaliya described it as a raw deal, saying she expected at least 40 percent as the President had earlier promised.
She said: “We are deflated that the President has not lived up to the promise of 40 percent female representation. What is even more saddening is that most women are deputy ministers. Why is this case? The President raised our expectations, but his appointments are less inspiring,”
Kaliya also faulted the new administration for having no Gender portfolio to clearly outline how gender, women and children’s issue will be dealt with.
“Community development is quite general and does not inspire confidence. This is retrogressive,” she added.
A quick analysis of the Cabinet composition shows that MCP has 16 members—12 full ministers and four deputies—representing 51.6 percent while UTM Party has contributed six: four ministers and two deputies, representing 19.4 percent.
There are also two independent legislators Madalitso Kambauwa and Nancy Chaola Mdooka.
The President had initially named five people to Cabinet positions within days of his election: Vice President Saulos Chilima at Economic Planning and Development and Public Service Reforms; retired business executive Felix Mlusu to lead Finance, law maker Richard Chimwendo Banda to Homeland Security, Chikosa Silungwe as Attorney General and lawyer Modecai Msisha who declined the offer to be Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
In yesterday’s announcement, the President also fired acting police inspector general Duncan Mwapasa and director general of the National Intelligence Service Kenam Kalilani, replacing them with George Kainja and Dokani Ngwira, respectively.
Chakwera has also made changes at the top of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, bringing back long time general manager for economic services Wilson Banda as Governor, replacing Dalitso Kabambo. Banda is a centrist in monetary policy circles.
There are also changes at the Malawi Revenue Authority, with John Bizwick taking over from Stewart Malata, among other appointments the President announced.