Malawi President Joyce Bandaâ€™s move to clean up the public service has sent shockwaves to former president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s appointees as they fear for their jobs.
Mutharika came under consistent fire from civil society organisations, opposition politicians, religious leaders and cooperating partners to check nepotism in the public service.
Said one chief executive officer from Mulanje who refused to be identified â€œbecause the matter is sensitiveâ€: â€œI am just keeping my fingers crossed. I am in the office right now and there seems to be a normal situation, but I do not know what fate has for me.â€
People warming up for my position
Another chief executive officer who was close to Mutharika said: â€œI can see some people warming themselves up for my position. I am on contract and they can pay me my money and go.â€
While a top civil servant, in one of the governance institutions, also close to Mutharika said: â€œI am just scratching myself while waiting for my fate. Things are really changing.â€
Weekend Nation investigations established in 2009 that Mutharikaâ€™s Cabinet of 42 ministers had 22 ministers from the South, representing 52 percent, 11 ministers from the Central Region, representing 26 percent and nine ministers from the North, constituting 21 percent.
Out of the 18 principal secretaries sampled, 12 came from the South, representing 67 percent, two came from the Centre, representing 11 percent while four were from the North, representing 22 percent.
Of the 25 public service chief executive officers sampled, 16 came from the South, representing 64 percent, five were from the Centre, representing 20 percent whereas four came from the North, representing 10 percent.
Out of 13 foreign missions sampled, eight were headed by officers from the South representing 62 percent whereas four were headed by officers from the Centre representing 32 percent and one was headed by an officer from the North, representing 7.7 percent.
Of the 30 statutory corporations that were sampled, 17 were headed by people from the South representing 57 percent, seven were headed by people from the Centre representing 23 percent while six were headed by people from the North representing 20 percent.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Banda said transfers she is making in the public service are normal. She said the movements could be addressing nepotism which the media accused government of.
Already, Banda has fired Inspector General of police Peter Mukhito, Secretary to Treasury Joseph Mwanamvekha and former minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati. Others have been moved to other departments like former Principal Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Mary Shawa who is at Ministry of Gender. The clean-up exercise is expected to continue after Mutharikaâ€™s burial.
â€˜The President has to be carefulâ€™
Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has since warned the new President to be careful by not firing everybody appointed by Mutharika, saying some can still be utilised for national development.
Chancellor College political analyst Joseph Chunga has also advised Banda not to target all Mutharikaâ€™s appointees but fire those who were appointed on political and ethnic grounds.
Said HRCC chairperson Undule Mwakasungula: â€œThe President must be careful in looking at this issue by not firing everybody because they are Mutharikaâ€™s appointees. Some of those are performers and professionals and can still be utilised for national development. My fear is, as we are building the nation, we have to think of inclusion and not exclusion. The new government must assess those picked on ethnic basis and see whether they can be utilised or not.
â€œWe have to fight nepotism but at the same time making sure we build national unity. Yes the President has to work with people who can share her vision and agenda and she has to refrain from appointing people on ethnic grounds. We need professionals to run the countryâ€™s affairs if we are to get out of the current challenges we are facing.â€
Commenting on the issue, Chunga said: â€œThe President has the responsibility of correcting the wrongs of her predecessor. If she does not, it will be betrayal of the high hopes Malawians have. It is not right for the President to target all those who were promoted by Mutharika.
â€œHowever, most of the beneficiaries of tribal or politically motivated appointments sustained their position by worshipping and serving the personal interests of the appointing president or the DPP. They were not about serving the public. Such people should be fired as soon as possible.â€