Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka has defended the appointment of individuals perceived to be politically-linked, who include Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s mother-in-law, to the diplomatic service, saying they are professionals with track records.
The minister told a press conference in Lilongwe yesterday that the new appointments were made based on the appointees’ professional track record and qualifications.
He said: “All of them are professionals. We looked at qualifications, integrity and many other factors. These appointments have been made after a rigorous and comprehensive exercise.
“The approach this time around was different. Even for the attaches we had to liaise with our colleagues from the relevant departments. We wanted to come up with people who will represent this country well.”
The list includes Chilima’s mother-in-law Margaret Constance Kamoto heading to Lusaka, Zambia and former first lady Callista Mutharika destined for Nairobi, Kenya.
Mkaka said Kamoto was appointed as a professional in her own right, not because she is the Vice-President’s mother-in-law.
He said: “Those people that have followed her track record will agree with me that she is an achiever. Not everybody on the list is linked to a political party.
“We have retired [High Court] judge Esmie Chombo who has no political orientation, but we have looked at her track record and the place where she is going to represent the country. We have Dr. [Agnes] Chimbiri who is working with the UNDP, she is an achiever.”
Commenting on the appointment of Stella Ndau, who is set to return to South Africa despite being accused of alleged abuse of office while in Pretoria during the Joyce Banda administration, the minister said the issue was sorted out.
Mkaka said: “That matter was handled by Parliament. Otherwise, if she had not been cleared, we wouldn’t have appointed her to represent this country.”
Commenting on Malawian diplomats expelled from South Africa for allegedly abusing their status, the minister said they will face employment-related disciplinary hearing.
Seven diplomats, spouses and families were given 72 hours to leave the country after the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation declared them unwanted.
Mkaka said government has done everything possible to ensure that services at the consulate in Johannesburg and High Commission in Pretoria are normal.
“They were given three working days starting from today. The ministry has deployed temporary officers so that diplomatic services are not disrupted and all properties are secured,” he said.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Lucky Sikwese said two of the diplomats declared persona non grata were already recalled.
“They came back to Malawi and five—four from Pretoria and one from Johannesburg—are those coming back now,” he said.
Sikwese declined to name the diplomats that were sent packing by South Africa.