Embattled Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has announced his new cabinet sacking 21 ministers in a major reshuffle that has also seen him reduce his cabinet from 42 to 32 ministers. Mutharika, who has been criticised for his autocratic style, would remain in charge of defence, while his brother and heir apparent, Peter, would take over at the Foreign Ministry. His wife, Calista, has been given responsibility for HIV/AIDS and women’s affairs, an appointment that is likely to rile reformists, even though the overall size of the cabinet in one of Africa’s poorest nations has dropped from 42 to 32. The shake-up is part of the response to deadly protests in July against the worsening economic plight of the average Malawian, who faces daily shortages of fuel and foreign exchange despite official annual growth figures of 7 percent or more. Nineteen people were killed in a police crackdown on the unprecedented demonstrations, which revealed the deep resentment to Mutharika’s rule over the landlocked nation of 13 million people that bills itself as the “Warm Heart of Africa”. In the international condemnation that followed the violence, donors — who normally account for more than a third of government revenues — suspended aid projects, exacerbating the already acute dollar shortage.
With 21 sacked, Mutharika has decided to bring back former DPP strongmen Henry Mussa, as Minister of Transport and Patricia Kaliati and Goodall Gondwe, both facing corruption charges, into the cabinet. Both Kaliati and Gondwe were dropped from cabinet on graft allegations. The Anti-Corruption Bureau is yet to announce whether the two have been cleared. The new faces are deputy Ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa (Foreign Affairs) Vera Flamenga Cherewani (Natural Resources) Cornelius Mwalwanda (Finance) Reverend Christopher Ngwira (Lands) Ralph Jooma (Health) and Nasrin Pillane (Gender). Only Dr. Jean Kalirani is the new face with a full Cabinet portfolio as Minister of Health while Gondwe heads Natural Resources, and outspoken Kaliati has returned to Information and Namakhwa has made a comeback as second deputy Minister for Agriculture.
Those sacked completely include Eta Banda and her deputy Steven Kamwendo (Foreign Affairs), Ken Kandodo and his deputy Frazer Nihorya from ministry of finance, Abbie Marambika Shawa who was at economic planning MacJones Mandala Shaba (Deputy for Transport) and Ritchie Muheya and his deputy Grenenger Msulira Banda who were at Irrigation and Water development. The chop has not spared Industry and Trade pair Eunice Kazembe and her deputy Shadreck Jonasi, deputy Lands Minister Billy Kaunda, Gender Minister Theresa Mwale, deputy Tourism Minister Augustine Mtendere and deputy Youth Minister Charles Mchacha . Anna Kachikho and her deputy Francis Kasaila (Local Government) Professor David Mphande and his deputy Felton Mulli, deputy minister for Internal Affairs Annie Lemani, Trasizio Gowelo who was deputy Information and Civic Education and Grain Malunga who headed Natural Resources have been sacked and no reasons given. Dr. George Chaponda has returned to Education after a stay at Justice where Ephraim Chiume former deputy at Natural Resources has taken over. Daniel Liwimbi, who was a deputy at Economic Planning, has been promoted to a full Minister of Tourism, while Ken Lipenga who was Tourism Minister has moved to Finance. Dr. Lucious Kanyumba has been appointed Minister of Labour, and Yunus Mussa has taken over the Lands portfolio. John Bande has moved from Lands to Trade, while Reen Kachere has been appointed minister of Gender.