Malawi President Peter Mutharika’s aide-de-camp (ADC) Lieutenant Colonel Fostino Gunda-Phiri was on Monday removed from his position, joining a growing list of the President’s aides to leave State House.
While confirming Gunda-Phiri’s removal, State House chief of staff Peter Mukhito referred the matter to the former ADC’s employers, the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) who confirmed the development.
“I can confirm that Lieutenant Colonel Phiri is no longer with State House. He has been recalled to MDF to carry out other duties,” said MDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Francis Kakhuta-Banda.
However, Kakhuta-Banda could not give the reasons for Gunda-Phiri’s removal from State House, only saying the Army Commander saw it necessary to recall and assign him to other duties.
Prior to Gunda-Phiri’s removal, six of Mutharika’s aides hired following his victory in the May 20 Tripartite Elections have left State House and been assigned to other departments.
Mukhito confirmed that presidential press secretary Frederick Ndala, presidential secretary Hilda Chapola, personal assistant to the First Lady, Philomena Kasambwe, deputy guard commander a Mr. Chikhungu and second deputy guard commander a Mr. Kabambe are out of State House.
The President’s guard commander Duncan Mwapasa is also out of State House after being appointed as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Malawi Police Service.
Commenting on the rate at which presidential aides are being removed his aides in less than a year, Happy Kayuni, associate professor of political and administrative studies at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi—questioned the appointment criteria at State House.
He said: “To [remove] such a number of people in less than a year puts question marks on those assigned to appoint them. High turnover at any organisation should be taken seriously and I don’t think all these firings had to do with incompetence.”
On the other hand, Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafiq Hajat suggested that those that were fired might not have satisfied the employer’s expectation.
He pointed out that State House appointments are normally political and that those who do not toe the political lines have slim chances of surviving.
“But again, it puts into question the job security at State House which could result into low morale as employees will fear who will be next to be fired,” said Hajat.
Political and social commentator Mustafa Hussein, also from Chancellor College, believes that the President wants to re-strategise by putting right people into right positions after working with those he removed for sometime.