While commending President Lazarus Chakwera for dismissing all ministers, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) wants him to appoint a lean Cabinet and replace Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC).
The quasi-religious grouping, which last week gave President Chakwera 90 days to reshuffle his Cabinet, also applauded the President for professionally handling the recorded audio matter involving Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma.
PAC publicity secretary Bishop Gilford Matonga yesterday said when they met the President as Malawi Congress Party candidate in 2019 elections, he promised a lean Cabinet of not more than 20 members.
However, he said Chakwera later said it was difficult to keep his promise having come into power through an alliance.
Matonga said: “Although there is an alliance component he should still keep the Cabinet lean. It may not be 20, but we can give him an allowance of two or three members to accommodate his political partners.
“But it must not be like the previous Cabinet of 31. He has already shown that he can listen to Malawians he must continue on that path”.
He said they have been receiving several complaints against SPC Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi from within and outside system and it was on that basis they advised Chakwera to replace him.
Matonga said the President should have taken advantage of the reshuffle to dismiss Chikhosi because “Malawians he is supposed to serve do not trust him”.
“For your own information when we had our first engagement with the President we told him the negative perception that people have against the SPC.
“In the last meeting we told him the same thing that we have several complaints against the SPC and [former] minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka and since the power to govern is based on trust, we asked the President to dismiss the two because they have lost public trust,” he added.
Ernest Thindwa of the University of Malawi (Unima) said the President took too long to act on a Cabinet which many people had lost trust and expectations are now huge.
“Most people are not impressed with how the Cabinet performed and they are now expecting more.”
But Joseph Chunga, another political analyst from Unima, said people should not expect a technical Cabinet because Chakwera will have to balance with the political aspect of it.
“This is Tonse Alliance, so he has to satisfy partners, balance regional and ethnic groups, but also address the gender gap. So, expecting a too technical Cabinet will be naive and we shouldn’t,” he said.
Chakwera’s maiden 31-member Cabinet released in early July 2020 was heavily criticised for inclusion of family members, unequal gender representation and having the Central Region particularly his home district of Lilongwe, dominating the numbers contrary to the Tonse Alliance campaign promise of meritorious appointments.
NGO-Gender Coordination Network chairperson Barbara Banda yesterday said they expect a 50-50 Cabinet, or at a least a minimum of 60-40 representation, in line with the Gender Equality Act.
“We will not accept anything less than that. Having reviewed performance of the outgoing Cabinet, we expect that he knows the best performers,” she said.
Governance pundit Makhumbo Munthali, while applauding Chakwera for the decisions taken on Monday, said the President needs to be more proactive than reactive in decision-making.
He also said while the President had maturely handled the Chizuma issue, his stance that he would be monitoring the ACB chief’s conduct gave the impression that Chakwera was putting her on a shirt leash.
Former Attorney General and private practice lawyer Charles Mhango yesterday agreed with Munthali that way the President spoke about Chizuma’s audio issue, will render her weak in managing the office.
“The President said it very clear that he will be monitoring her actions, so it will depend on her strength to manage that office.
“She will now be very afraid of the President because she has been warned directly and if it were me, I would say, thank you, am stepping down.”