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What of the Cabinet review?

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Puludzu

At last! The long anticipated full blown Cabinet reshuffle, the first by President Lazarus Chakwera, finally happened this week on Monday and it appeared the first citizen was taking no prisoners as he made it crystal clear that he would not keep in his fold former Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, who is embroiled in land deals controversy involving Zuneth Sattar and was at one point arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), before he found reprieve at the High Court in Zomba where Judge Zione Ntaba faulted the manner in which the ACB executed its warrant of arrest.

I am sure the position taken by Chakwera to exclude the former minister in his new Cabinet, does not make Msukwa, in any way, ‘guilty before proven innocent’ or the other way round before a competent court of law. To the contrary, this would give the former minister ample time to clear his name. In fact, elsewhere, the moment such high profile individuals are mentioned in scandals of such nature, they simply do the honourable thing of stepping down from their position but this is Africa and I am yet to see many borrowing a cue from the West.

Do bear with me, I usually tend to get carried away and deviate from the main issue and the subject matter at hand is the cabinet reshuffle by the President. To say the least, Malawi is a country of only 18 million plus people and therefore it does not make sense to have a bloated number of Cabinet ministers. I even used to wonder as to what exactly some of the deputy ministers we had in the reshuffled cabinet were doing, aside from meeting the usual errands of opening a workshop once in a blue moon or carting home allowances by attending a ‘not so important’ activity somewhere in rural areas (they call them field trips). I therefore fully subscribe to the calls for a lean cabinet because, looking at the economic shocks and challenges our country has been experiencing since the coming in of Covid-19, we simply could not afford to be luxurious as we were to maintain some ministers and ministries that were simply a duplication of each other with no clearly-defined lines. It is everyone’s expectation that once the new Cabinet hits the ground, it will be full of people that really deserve to be in there and know their stuff as opposed to having individuals ‘rewarded’ simply for funding party activities or being loyal servants; It is time our country moved from there.

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Come to think of it, last time when President Chakwera gave an assurance to Malawians after the uproar that accompanied the naming of his initial 31-member Cabinet, he had indicated that the ministers would be subjected to a performance review after clocking five months in office but here we are over a year later and we still do not know who among the lot that has been fired lived up to the billing or failed to make the grade. Just like those hidden recommendations for the Public Sector Reforms, we do not really know the exact measures that the fired ministers were subjected to. Now would be a good time for the Malawi leader to go public on how the fired ministers performed and whether those that are maintained really deserve to be on that list.

But that aside, kudos to the tenant at House Number One for making that long waited bold move to fiddle with his Cabinet. The calls were from far and wide and I for one I am happy that the President, though it is his prerogative, decided to heed people’s calls as well.

Finally, one Martha Chizuma; her that the entire public rallied behind to be given the top job at ACB when the Parliamentary Appointments Committee had initially felt otherwise, must be a very lucky woman as President Lazarus Chakwera decided to maintain her in that office after listening to the voice of reason. Chakwera announced on the same night he told us about the Cabinet reshuffle that he had met Chizuma Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo over that leaked audio conversation, which she authenticated.

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I’ll not dwell on whether there was any breach of law or not but simply put, Chizuma was walking on egg shells by having such a sensitive conversation with that other person over the phone. If it was indeed a well-laid trap, as suspected then woe unto the one that orchestrated such an evil deed.

Otherwise, President Chakwera has restored our faith in his Tonse-led administration but as they say ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’.

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