By Jameson Chauluka:
Political activist Michael Usi has triggered debate on the manner in which Cabinet ministers and senior government officials are appointed, saying wrong people are serving in key positions thereby undermining the country’s development.
Usi spoke on Sunday during a rally he addressed together with United Transformation Movement (UTM) shadow member of Parliament for Blantyre Kabula Constituency, Felix Njawala.
“Just like in football, when a striker becomes a referee, there is chaos. Look at the Ministry of Health, for example [which is headed by lawyer Atupele Muluzi], other ministries and senior government positions. The positions do not tally with the holders’ levels of education and expertise,” said Usi, who leads Okudya Zake Alibe Mlandu, a grouping which is working with Vice- President Saulos Chilima’s UTM.
Usi said people should be appointed to positions based on their expertise and abilities and not politics of appeasement.
A quick look at President Peter Mutharika’s 20-member Cabinet shows that another lawyer Bright Msaka heads the Ministry of Education, engineer Francis Kasaila is the Minister of Sports, chemist and academician Emmanuel Fabiano is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, broadcaster Kondwani Nankhumwa is the Minister of Local Government while intelligence expert Nicholas Dausi is the Minister of Information.
Still in Mutharika’s Cabinet, Jappie Mhango, a sports administrator, heads the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, nurse Grace Chiumia is the Minister of Civic Education while doctor Jean Kalilani is the Minister of Gender.
However, all is fine with economist Goodall Gondwe and lawyer Samuel Tembenu, who are in charge of finance and justice ministries, respectively.
But government spokesperson, Dausi, dismissed Usi’s sentiments, saying ministers only serve as political leaders of ministries.
“That only shows that the one who was speaking does not understand how the government works. We have technocrats in all the ministries and departments who advise the ministers,” he said.
However, some ministries have technocrats such as principal secretaries whose expertise does not tally with tasks of the line ministry. In other cases, even board members are appointed irrespective of their qualifications and experience.
But political scientist Ernest Thindwa said having ministers to head ministries they are conversant with is good but the main problem is that the country lacks transformative leadership.
“Having an agriculturalist as Agriculture Minister is an advantage but the main problem is that the country’s leadership is concerned with political survival and not developing people’s lives,” he said.
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