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Labour Minister breaks internet

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Social media went crazy in Malawi on Sunday, when a picture of Labour Minister Vera Kamtukule standing between Malawi Police Service Inspector General George Kainja and the Deputy Army Commander Lt General Paul Valentino Phiri went viral.

Kamtukule was at Kamuzu International Airport to welcome President Lazarus Chakwera as he returned from Mozambique, fuelling speculation that she might have been in charge of State affairs in the absence of the President and Vice President Saulos Chilima.

Chilima left for the United States (US) and Kamtukule saw him off.

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However, Machinga Likwenu Member of Parliament Bright Msaka, who once worked as chief secretary of State and Justice minister, cleared the mist in an interview Monday, saying when a president travels out, he does not delegate his powers to anyone.

He said it is part of tradition that a senior member of the Cabinet present at the airport is usually appointed to dismiss the army and guard of honour when the Head of State goes on international assignments.

“In as long as he is not incapacitated, the President remains in full control of the affairs of the State regardless of where he is. The President does not delegate his powers, not even to the Vice President. Being asked to dismiss the army when a head of State is not there does not, in any way, mean you have been left in control of affairs of the State,” Msaka said.

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Msaka also dismissed suggestions that the Speaker of Parliament is the one that is supposed to take care of the country in the absence of the President and his vice, saying the Legislature and the Executive operate independently.

“Whatever people say about the speaker taking over is not possible constitutionally. In following the principle of separation of powers, the Speaker cannot move from the Legislature to take over Executive power because, even when the President and the vice die or are incapacitated, the Speaker will not be president. Cabinet will meet and choose a caretaker president,” he said.

Kamtukule said, instead of wondering about the criteria used for delegating her, Malawians should care about the opportunities that the presidency is according female Cabinet ministers in the spirit of women empowerment.

“It was such an honour for me and it’s an experience that I would not forget in a hurry. The President has already demonstrated his commitment towards women empowerment. And, from my experience, yesterday [Sunday’s episode] is just [meant] to encourage the young girl that it is possible to occupy those high spaces of leadership,” she said.

Kamtukule was appointed full minister of labour in January 2022 after serving in deputy capacity in the same ministry for about two years.

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