Hours after one of his partial Cabinet appointees turned down the offer, President Lazarus Chakwera has said he will consult nominees before announcing any appointments.
In a daily update posted on his Facebook page, the President also said he and Vice-President Saulos Chilima have made progress on the formulation of a full Cabinet he indicated would have “no more than 30” with women accounting for at least 40 percent.
Said Chakwera: “On this second day, my administration presented a [provisional] budget to the people, whose representatives have duly passed it.
“This budget covers the necessary functions of government for the next four months, during which time we will work on a full budget.”
The President said the appointees would be at liberty to reconsider accepting the extent or form of their involvement in the event that demands of public office change, with assurance of no remonstration or recrimination on his part.
He was apparently referring to the decision by Modecai Msisha, a senior counsel (SC), who on Tuesday turned down his appointment as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Msisha, who was Chakwera’s lead counsel in the presidential election nullification petition case, said he did not want to be seen as benefitting from his client.
On Tuesday, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu presented a K722.4 billion four-month provisional budget, which has attempted to meet campaign promises of the newly-ushered Tonse Alliance administration led by Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
In his update posted at midnight on Tuesday, Chakwera—who quit the pulpit as head of Malawi Assemblies of God in 2013 to join frontline politics as MCP president—highlighted deliverables in the provisional budget.
The deliverables included the preliminary fertiliser subsidy at K4 495 per 50 kilogramme bag to 3.5 million smallholder farmers, a proposed adjustment in the minimum wage from K35 000 to K50 000 and expansion of the zero-rated tax bracket from K45 000 to K100 000.
He also mentioned an increase in loan schemes such as Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) from K15 billion to K40 billion with prospects to gradually rise to the promised K75 billion.
The President, who teamed up with Chilima of UTM Party as his running mate, also said he spent his second day in office getting reports from parastatal organisations on the status of their operations.
He said he would soon update the nation on steps to be undertaken to address challenges facing the State-owned companies.
Reacting to Chakwera’s report on his Twitter page, Blessings Chinsinga, a political and governance commentator based at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi —described the gesture as a good start.
He said: “Wow! Reading a presidential report for the first time beyond the Sona [State of the Nation Address]! A good start.”
Chakwera’s interim spokesperson Sean Kampondeni was yet to respond by press time to our question on the frequency the President will be giving such updates. He said he was in a meeting last evening.
Besides Mlusu, Chakwera’s partial Cabinet has Chilima as Minister of Economic Planning, Development and Public Sector Reforms and Dowa East legislator Richard Chimwendo Banda—who is also MCP director of youth and Leader of the House in Parliament—as Minister of Homeland Security.
In his first appointments, Chakwera also appointed as Attorney General lawyer Chikosa Silungwe, who was Chilima’s lead counsel in the presidential election nullification petition case.
Chakwera triumphed in the court-ordered June 23 fresh presidential election with 58.57 percent against 38 percent for the then incumbent Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party.