Blantyre Rural West member of Parliament (MP) Peter Kumpalume and his Karonga North counterpart Vincent Ghambi emerged as the two casualties in a Cabinet reshuffle that saw President Peter Mutharika bringing in three new faces.
The President has also substantively filled the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development which remained vacant since the removal of Mulanje South West MP George Chaponda earlier this year after he became the centre of a probe into dubious maize imports from Zambia. The portfolio has been filled by Joseph Mwanamvekha whose Industry, Trade and Tourism post has been assigned to Henry Mussa.
The trio Mutharika has drafted into Cabinet comprises Phalombe North MP Anna Kachikho (Lands, Housing and Urban Development), Ntcheu North East MP Everton Herbert Chimulirenji (Deputy Minister of Defence) and Chitipa Central legislator Clement Mkumbwa (Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare).
Kachikho, who served in former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s Cabinet, has replaced Atupele Muluzi who is now Minister of Health following Kumpalume’s dismissal whereas Chimulirenji has fitted into Ghambi’s shoes.
In his fifth Cabinet reshuffle since assuming office in 2014, the President has moved around several ministers.
Besides Muluzi, Mussa and Mwanamvekha, other Cabinet ministers the President has reshuffled are Bright Msaka from Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to Education, Science and Technology; Emmanuel Fabiano from Education, Science and Technology to Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Francis Kasaila from Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, replacing Mussa.
Mutharika has also promoted Lilongwe City West MP Aggrey Masi from Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.
On the other hand, the following have maintained their portfolios: Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development), Jean Kalilani (Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare), Kondwani Nankhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development), Grace Chiumia (Home Affairs and Internal Security), Nicholas Dausi (Information and Communications Technology), Jappie Mhango (Transport and Public Works), Cecilia Chazama (Civic Education, Culture and Community Development) and Samuel Tembenu (Justice and Constitutional Affairs).
The President has also appointed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) aspiring legislator Charles Mhango as the new Attorney General (AG) to replace Kalekeni Kaphale whose three-year contract expired on June 30 2017.
When contacted to guive his reaction, Kumpalume, sounding relaxed, said he will not talk to the media on his dismissal.
He said: “I will not say anything about that. I have done a lot of interviews with the media and it is my time to chill out.”
Ghambi, who has been in Cabinet since June 20 2014, said he had no bad feelings after his firing.
He said: “There is nothing to react to actually. I am happy to have served in President Mutharika’s administration for close to three years now. This means the President had trust in me. So, I am very happy that I am among those who have been in Cabinet ever since the President assumed power in 2014.”
While welcoming the addition of Kachikho into the Cabinet, Non- Governmental Organisation Gender Coordinating Network (NGO-GCN) chairperson Emma Kaliya said the new Cabinet is a clear indication that Mutharika lacks objectivity and true qualities of a statesman.
She observed that the reshuffle was a result of political pressure the President is experiencing ahead of the 2019 elections.
Said Kaliya: “There is nothing really to smile about. If you analyse the new Cabinet, you get an impression that the President was under pressure to make changes to fight the opposition or appease some sections of his followers such as those in Phalombe. [Charles] Mhango has been appointed to fight Enock Chihana in Rumphi. That’s not the best way to make ministerial appointments,” she narrated.
“I believe that ministers should be appointed on merit and with a view that they will make a difference to the nation and not merely appeasing someone.”
On the gender front, the activist said the new Cabinet leaves a lot to be desired as it does not inspire hope that Malawi could achieve 50 percent of women representation in public offices. n