President Peter Mutharika has appointed Aggrey Masi to deputise him in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development following the removal of George Chaponda last month.
However, a governance commentator who called for the appointment of Chaponda’s substantive replacement, wondered why Mutharika was failing to appoint a full minister.
He said APM’s move to appoint a deputy gave the impression that the previous minister was irreplaceable.
The appointment follows calls by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) that only a minister with the ability to follow issues could provide quick solutions to challenges facing the agriculture and water sector.
The committee chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said Mutharika, who has held the position since February, had overstayed in the position.
A press release from the Office of President and Cabinet issued yesterday indicated that Masi’s appointment was with immediate effect.
Until his appointment, Masi who is also Lilongwe City West legislator, was deputy minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
Masi has not held a full ministerial portfolio as he held the post of deputy Minister of Defence, deputising Mutharika again.
He was at Home Affairs for about six months and later moved to Ministry of Defence for less than five months.
In the statement, Chief Secretary to the government Lloyd Muhara did not indicate a replacement for Masi which leaves the number of Cabinet members at 20.
CCJP national secretary Martin Chiphwanya said while Masi’s appointment will ensure easy access to political will at the ministry, he would not exercise full autonomy.
He said the deputy minister will have delegated discretion which will affect decision-making processes because he would have to consult the President before acting.
“We can only speculate as to why the President has decided to appoint a deputy minister and not a full minister. It creates the impression that the last one was irreplaceable and the President is still pondering on the right replacement,” Chiphwanya said.