By Sylvester Kumwenda – Mana.
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera says the newly appointed cabinet is a capable team, appointed on merit and one which equates with the Tonse Philosophy.
He made the remarks before 29 ministers and deputy ministers on Friday took oath of office at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe, in response to the public outcry that arose after government released names of people earmarked for various ministerial positions.
Some of the concerns included that the cabinet comprises some family members and the majority is from the central region, which is the strong hold of the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the party Chakwera leads.
“I want to assure all Malawians that in making any appointments, I will never consider what family or region one comes from nor whom one is married to.
“I believe that a just society is not only one in which familial, regional, and marital ties do not qualify you for service, but also one in which those ties do not disqualify you for service,” said Chakwera.
The President said all the cabinet members have been selected out of merit, which he said has for long been wrongly reduced to academic credentials and social media populism.
The number one citizen said to be a minister of government is to accept the responsibility of national and political leadership.
“That responsibility should only be offered to someone on merit, where merit means a proven track record to lead people effectively in producing results in the face of formidable odds and political complexities.
“There is no one on this Cabinet who does not pass that test,” said Chakwera.
The president however, said there are many other capable individuals who could have made it into cabinet but these have been selected because their combination is a representation of the strategic strengths of the member parties of the Tonse Alliance.
Apart from these, some other quarters of the society also raised concerns that the new Cabinet does not empower women or persons with disabilities.
This was brought forward after noting that there are no line ministries dedicated to these in the new government.
The new leader however, said these are only absent in name but have been strategically placed in the Ministry of Community Develoment and Social Welfare.
“Our approach is to place issues of gender and disability within the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare with a fully empowered and resourced Principal Secretary solely dedicated to address them with a view to reaching specific measurable benchmarks.
“This is because our Tonse Philosophy compels us to move away from paying lip service to the plight of women, children, and persons with disability as a publicity stunt, and to instead focus on alleviating that plight,” said Chakwera.
On the number of full women ministers in cabinet, Chakwera said he would be increasing the number of full women ministers in five months time having noted that many of them have been appointed as deputy ministers.
The president also said the appointments he made of a Commissioner General and Deputy Commissioner General for Malawi Revenue Authority are only on acting basis to immediately curb malpractices happening there, until the board is in place to make permanent appointments.
Chakwera said he has confidence in the ministers and deputy ministers that have made it into cabinet but warned them of reluctance saying the work was just beginning.
“The ministries you have been assigned to, are in a mess, characterized by wanton wastage of resources, greedy monopoly in the awarding of contracts, incompetence in the standard of work, and multiple systemic inefficiencies. You each have five months to produce results that will give Malawians confidence that change has come,” he said.