President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday completed the appointment of a 31-member Cabinet that has seen experienced politicians, Members of Parliament (MPs), youths, a broadcaster and private-sector players being given opportunities to lead various portfolios.
The Malawi leader had initially announced the appointments of Felix Mlusu as Minister of Finance, Richard Chimwendo Banda as Minister of Homeland Security and Vice-President Saulos Chilima as Minister responsible for Economic Planning and Development before completing the list Wednesday.
In the full Cabinet, the following MPs have been appointed full ministers: Lobin Lowe (Minister of Agriculture), Eisenhower Mkaka (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Lingson Belekanyama (Minister of Local Government), Khumbize Chiponda (Minister of Health), Kenny Kandodo (Minister of Labour), Kezzie Msukwa (Minister of Lands), Sosten Gwengwe (Minister of Trade), Nancy Tembo (Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources) and Ulemu Msungama (Minister of Youth and Sports).
Malawi Congress Party vice-president Sidik Mia has been appointed Minister of Transport and Public Works while his UTM counterpart Michael Usi is Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife. Former lawmaker Patricia Kaliati is Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare; lawyer Titus Mvalo is Minister of Justice while another former MP Agnes Nyalonje has been appointed Minister of Education.
Politician and businessman Newton Kambala has been appointed Minister of Energy; activist-cum-politician Timothy Mtambo is Minister of Civic Education and National Unity while Roy Kachale-Banda is Minister of Industry. Businessman Rashid Gaffar is Minister of Mining and veteran broadcaster Gospel Kazako is Minister of Information.
Deputy Ministers are MPs Jean Sendeza (Defence), Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma (Agriculture), Nancy Mdooko (Transport and Public Works), Chrissie Kanyasho (Health), Madalitso Kambauwa (Education), Halima Daudi (Local Government) and Abida Mia (Lands) while social entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Vera Kamtukule has been appointed Deputy Minister of Labour.
Chakwera has lived by his pledge that at least 40 percent of his Cabinet would comprise women as the full list has 12 female ministers.
The President has also appointed former Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) General Manager and Senior Advisor to the Executive Director at the World Bank, Wilson Banda, as the new RBM boss replacing Dalitso Kabambe while John Bizwick is the new Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General replacing Tom Malata.
Henry Ngutwa is MRA Deputy Commissioner General (Revenue) while Agnes Katsonga Phiri is the tax collector’s Deputy Commissioner General responsible for Administration.
Other appointees are Dokani Ngwira (National Intelligence Services Director-General); George Kainja (Inspector General [IG] of Police); and Demuster Chigwenembe (Deputy IG responsible for Operations).
Kainja replaces Acting IG Duncan Mwapasa.
According to Chief Secretary to the Government, Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi, the appointments are with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, a social and political commentator Makhumbo Munthali has described the new Cabinet as a mixed bag that attempts to reconcile the political interests of the Tonse Alliance with the public expectation of new blood and technocrats.
“One can clearly see that some appointments are merely rewarding certain individuals in the Tonse Alliance for the huge role they played in campaigning for Chakwera. But at the same time, the incorporation of new blood such as Mtambo, Kazako, Kamtukule and others offers some hope,” Munthali said.
In a statement issued prior to the appointments, Chakwera said he and Chilima had a tough time to come up with the Cabinet as there were many capable individuals who could not all be taken on board.
The President then disclosed that others will be given other responsibilities as “the work of draining the swamp, clearing the rubble, overhauling the rotten systems of the state and building new systems cannot be the preserve of Cabinet ministers alone”.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje