New Cabinet sparks mixed reactions
By Edward Rex
The new cabinet that appeared to Malawians on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, pushed the citizens to
express a package of different views as the Malawi leader, Lazarus Chakwera, brought new faces into
the 27-member cabinet and dropped other familiar faces from the system.
The decision to reshuffle the cabinet came into the spotlight after the Head of State himself promised
Malawians through his New Year’s national address, that he would produce a lean cabinet that would be
relevant to the country’s economic situation.
Malawians took the president’s promise to heart and turned their attention to the state house to see how the first Chakwera’s cabinet reshuffle played out.
As the days turned into weeks, Malawians started wondering after seeing no signs of this development until the last day of January, when the office of the president released the list of 27 names that make up the highly anticipated crop of the new cabinet.
As the full cabinet list, which includes the president and his vice president, became public, people, including various commentators, raised their eyebrows and treated the new cabinet differently.
While others were commending the president for living up to his promise, others took a different lens, reprimanding Chakwera for working under pressure after releasing the cabinet at the eleventh hour.
And again, contrary to the people’s expectation of the real small-sized cabinet as earlier promised by Chakwera, citizens were surprised to see that the new cabinet is just 5 individuals short of the initial crop of cabinets, which had a total of 32 individuals.
After the president pledged to come up with a slim cabinet, it was expected that the new cabinet would stick around 20 members, which did not happen.
According to the new cabinet, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa who was fired together with Lobin Lowe in October last year, has returned to the cabinet as Minister of Education.
Moses Kumkuyu, a Malawi Congress Party senior member and Chakwera’s advisor on local government, has replaced, Gospel Kazako who has been fired.
Ken Zikhale Ng’oma who is a Member of Parliament for Nkhatabay South, has been appointed as the new Minister of Homeland Security, replacing Jean Sendeza who has been moved to the Ministry of Gender.
Another new face in the cabinet is Member of Parliament for Kasungu North Simplex Chithyola who has been appointed as Minister of Trade and Industry, replacing the fired Mark Katsonga.
Chakwera has also appointed MCP legislator for Karonga South, Uchizi Mkandawire, as Minister of Youth and Sports.
MCP Director of Youth Richard Chimwendo, who was previously Minister of Sports and Youth, has been moved to the Ministry of Local Government, Unity, and Culture.
Other ministers who have been moved include Vera Kamtukule from Labor to Tourism, Agnes Makonda Nyalonje from Education to Labour, and Michael Usi from Tourism to Natural Resources and Climate Change.
In a new turn, Chakwera has promoted Monica Chang’anamuno, who was Deputy Minister of Education and is now Minister of Mining, while Deus Gumba has also been promoted from Deputy Minister of Lands to Minister of Lands.
MCP vice president for the North, Harry Mkandawire, who was Deputy Minister of Defense, is now Minister of Defense, a position previously held by Chakwera.
The new crop of cabinet members has overall indicated that MCP Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka, UTM Secretary General Patricia Kaliati, former Minister of Local Government Blessings Chinsinga, former National Unity Minister Timothy Mtambo, and Gospel Kazako have been dropped from the system.
Not only that, the former Deputy Ministers for Health, Water, and Sanitation, Enock Phale and John Bande, respectively, have also been fired.
While Chakwera’s previous cabinet had nine deputy ministers, the current one has four, as Chakwera has not appointed deputies for the ministries of Lands, Gender, Agriculture, Defense, Transport, and Public Works.
The president has, however, maintained the number of ministers, which is 21, excluding Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima.
The previous cabinet had a total of 32 members, while the current one has 27 members, including Chakwera and Chilima.
The appointment of the new deputy Minister of Local Government, Unity, and Culture in the name of Owen Chomanika, who is currently trading under the ticket of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), did not spare a lot of attention as the question still remains on the motive behind Chakwera’s move to appoint an individual who is outside the nine political parties of the Tonse Alliance.
Patricia Kaliati, who has been branded as one of the outstanding performers in the last cabinet, saw her name disappear on the newly formulated list, something that questioned the merit used by the head of
state to reshuffle his cabinet.
However, according to political experts, the firing of Patricia Kaliati and Eisenhower Mkaka out of cabinet is deemed to be a deliberate move to push the duo into their respective party commitments as the country draws closer to the 2025 tripartite election.