Pressure continues to mount on President Lazarus Chakwera to trim his Cabinet with the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) adding its voice,
saying lack of leadership in some ministries justifies the calls.
In a statement on Friday, Cama executive director John Kapito said the perceived lack of leadership has contributed to poor service delivery which leaves no option for the President than to reshuffle and trim his Cabinet.
Reads the Cama statement in part: “[Some of] the current Cabinet ministers seem clueless and ignorant about their roles where some ministers have simply turned their offices as vending places for their own businesses.
“Most of the ministers are shamelessly incompetent and not worth serving this struggling government whose economy is upside down.” In the statement, Cama proposed to meet some of the ministries they observed as not performing, including Chakwera himself, to discuss recommendations on how public service delivery can be improved.
But while acknowledging that Chakwera granted Cama an audience where they proposed their various recommendations, the statement states that there has been no feedback from the concerned ministries on the proposal to meet.
The statement said the President should be compelled to have a Cabinet of individuals that should help him bring sanity and confidence in his administration.
“Our call as consumers is to ensure that the team he [Chakwera] appoints is the team that is capable of implementing our shared vision of improving the livelihoods of Malawi,” further reads the statement.
Cama observes that while Chakwera may have good intentions, he would be unable to achieve set goals with the current crop
of ministers. Efforts to speak to State House director of communication Sean Kampondeni proved futile as he did not pick up our calls on numerous attempts.
But Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is the official government spokesperson, said he could not comment on anything to do with Cabinet structuring.
He said: “This is a Cabinet issue and it is only the President who has authority over it. I can’t, therefore, comment or say on anything on how the Cabinet should be instituted as doing so would be overlapping and over stretching my responsibility as government spokesperson a n d Minister of Information.”
Cama’s follows a similar appeal by the quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (PAC) which, during a closed-door meeting with Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe last Wednesday, asked the President to keep his promise of a lean Cabinet of less than 20 members. PAC said the lean Cabinet was Chakwera’s own promise to the organisation prior to the nullified May 21 2019 Presidential Election; hence, they were simply making a gentle reminder.
In a statement after last week’s meeting, PAC said it also asked the President to clear the perception that appointments to various public offices are based on blood relations.
While acknowledging that the first Cabinet size was meant to reach out to all Tonse Alliance partners, PAC said time had come for the President to appoint a lean Cabinet in line with the size of the economy.
In the run-up to the 2019 elections, PAC met presidential candidates and each one of them made some commitments. Chakwera, who was Malawi Congress Party (MCP) torchbearer, made 19 promises which included a lean Cabinet of between 14 and 19 members.
However, upon assuming power as candidate of the nine political-party Tonse Alliance in the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election, Chakwera hired a 32-member Cabinet which also fell short of the 40:60 gender representation.
In reaction to critics who faulted the Cabinet composition in July 2020, Chakwera pledged to review it based on performance after six months. However, to date, the President is yet to revise the Cabinet which currently has five vacancies created by deaths of two ministers and the removal of two others as well as the Attorney General.
On the President’s reaction to calls for a lean Cabinet, Matonga said Chakwera told the PAC team that he made the commitment then as an individual candidate before the alliance; hence, the size of the Cabinet is based on the alliance