Case of same script
So on Tuesday January 31, 2023 almost the entire country did not go to sleep as people, especially those with interests in the political field, waited with bated breath to see if President Lazarus Chakwera would live up to expectation after he had, in his New Year address to the public, indicated that he would be announcing a new Cabinet before January ends.
You could have heard a pin drop as there was dead silence by the time midnight struck, with no clear sign from either State House or Capital Hill that the much-awaited Cabinet was coming out anytime soon.
And out it did come in the early hours of the next day. That, however, did not stop the public from throwing innuendos towards the direction of State House, in as far as keeping deadlines is concerned. But, then, what if the Cabinet list was done a day before or even a week ago only that they chose to issue it out at such a particular odd hour? Regardless of that, the fact is people saw and heard the President promising to announce the new Cabinet before the end of the month, which was not the case in this instance as it came some hours late.
My initial reaction was that the tenant at Capital Hill could have even gone one better by reducing the number of ministers; keeping it lean as pledged. In his initial Cabinet back in July 2020, the Malawi leader had named a 31-member Cabinet with 23 full ministers and, following the death of two ministers, in December 2021 he announced Blessings Chinsinga and Jacob hara as those that would replace the two. So, essentially, it was still 31.
Somewhere along the way, we found ourselves ‘back to default settings’ (they do say old habits die hard) as the number revolved around 30, which I believe goes for the recently dissolved Cabinet.
Fast forward to February 01, 2023, the new Cabinet named by Chakwera has 23 full ministers (including the President and Vice President) as well as four deputy ministers.
So, in total, we are looking at 27 people in this Cabinet and for a small economy such as Malawi’s, I feel it is still a bit on the higher side. We have always lacked the much-needed financial resources to adequately render essential services to the people. A good example is how cholera has ravaged the nation and some people are still accessing untreated water. Don’t you feel, if we had, say 15 or 16 Cabinet ministers and just a couple of presidential advisers, we would be saving the much needed finances that could be channeled towards the areas where we lack?
Perhaps, the area we need to applaud the President on is the move to bring in more women on board as we now have about 11 full and deputy ministers in the Cabinet. Way to go! We wait for the day when we will also see, under the current administration, the physically challenged being included. Under other regimes, we had the likes of late Susan Chitimbe, late George Claver and Clement Chiwaya serving as Cabinet ministers.
To all the lieutenants that have made the cut, know that the task that lies ahead of you is quite huge. Everybody should pull their weight and ensure that their ministries and any other arm or agency that falls under them performs. You must show to the people of Malawi that you’re there to deliver and rightfully deserve that post; otherwise, you will find yourselves going just as fast as you came in.
Calm down now; I did not mean to scare anyone but I am just being real. Anyway, here is my last piece of advice to those that have made the new Cabinet and possibly the most important one:
We did observe that some within the previous Cabinet (currently serving or otherwise) kept getting themselves entangled in corruption allegations…now whether true or otherwise, such kind of scandals have negative implications on the overall image of the entire Cabinet and, in politics, a good reputation goes a long way in luring the people to your side. So please come to the table with clean hands. Do not soil the reputation of Tonse Alliance which came to power riding on the back of ‘clearing the rubble’ or ‘draining the swamp’ as preached by both Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).