By Rebecca Chimjeka:
President Peter Mutharika is on record to have, more than once, appealed for unity, saying he is committed to promoting equality in national development.
However, his actions seem to contradict his words, if his choice of Cabinet ministers is anything to go by.
For instance, on June 19 this year, just days before the swearing-in of newly elected members of Parliament, he appointed members of his Cabinet, which he, according to human rights defenders, filled with faces from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stronghold, Southern Region.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition Deputy Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said research findings reveal that most Cabinet positions were occupied by people from one region, the South.
“This means most development projects will be implemented in the Southern Region, which is unfortunate,” he said.Advertisement
The human rights activist said, in an ideal situation, the President was supposed to cast his net wider.
“APM [Arthur Peter Mutharika] got 38 percent [of the votes] according to Mec [Malawi Electoral Commission] results…but considering that many people did not register due to logistical problems within Mec, if we put the number of all people above 18 years, statistically it implies that he got about 20 percent of support from the people; hence, his government is a minority and has legitimacy weaknesses.
“Therefore, one would expect that he would be trying to be inclusive in making appointments as well as in policy decisions. Regionalism in development will not take Malawi anywhere,” he said.
He said, apart from Cabinet, top positions in parastatals were concentrated in hands of people from a specific region.
University of Malawi political scientist, Ernest Thindwa, said the challenge was that presidents tend to limit the choice of Cabinet ministers to people from their political party, yet there are capable people outside political establishments that could help the government operate efficiently.
“For me, where one comes from or his/her sex or ethnic identity is not an issue What is key is the competence of individuals appointed to drive what I would describe as a very ambitions DPP development agenda. I am not convinced that the team Mutharika has assembled is up to the task. It is not a Cabinet that gives most Malawians confidence for a better Malawi in the next five years. It is a Cabinet conceived largely to secure the president and the DPP’s short term political survival other than to drive the party’s economic and social programmes,” Thindwa said.
He said, in a divided country like Malawi, the composition of the Cabinet needed to be seen to be more inclusive to deal with perceived perception of the DPP being an exclusive club for those from the Southern Region.
“Unless the team delivers, which is less likely, given the aggregate calibre of the team, DPP will continue to suffer from perception of being an exclusive political club,” he added.
But Information Minister, who is also government spokesperson, Mark Botomani, said, when it comes to the selection of members of the Cabinet, the President does not look at one’s region but capability.
He also said the president is committed to promoting development initiatives in all parts of the country.
“It is wrong to assume that the President can favour one region over others. He has tried his best to choose from all the regions and the Cabinet is also based on those members represented in the National Assembly,” he said.
Arthur Peter Mutharika, President Minister of Defence Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (Thyolo)
Everton Herbert Chimulirenji, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, Minister Responsible for Disaster and Relief Management and Public Events (Ntcheu)
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha (Chiradzulu)
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Michael Botomani (Zomba)
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Symon Vuwa Kaunda (Nkhata Bay)
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Benson Malunga Phiri (Thyolo)
Minister of Health and Population Jappie Chancy Mtuwa Mhango (Rumphi)
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Ibrahim Salim Bagus (Nsanje)
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa (Mulanje)
Minister of Education, Science and Technology William Susuwele Banda) (Zomba)
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Bright Msaka (Machinga)
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila (Nsanje)
Martha Lunji Mhone Chanjo, Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation (Nkhotakota)
Ralph Jooma, Minister of Transport and Public Works (Mangochi)
Nicholas Dausi, Minister of Homeland Security (Mwanza)
Marry Thom Navicha, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (Thyolo)
Binton Kutsaira Lilongwe, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining (Lilongwe)
Francis Phiso, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture (Blantyre)
Amos Mailosi, Deputy Minister of Defence (Phalombe)
Chipiliro Mpinganjira, Deputy Minister of Defence (Blantyre)
Esther Majaza, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (Mchinji)
Martha Chiuluntha Ngwira, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology (Mzimba)
Charles Mchacha Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works (Thyolo)
Grace Kwelepeta, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (Zomba)
Mungasulwa Mwambande, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining (Karonga)
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