Malawi President
FILE – Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera takes the oath of office in Lilongwe, Malawi, June 28, 2020.

By Patseni Mauka

President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has assumed the role of Minister of Energy soon after he fired Newton Kambala. The president, who always moves at snail’s pace on issues of national importance, has acted quickly to protect his personal interests at the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).

Newton Kambala

Yesterday, Malawians were dumbfounded when Chakwera communicated that he will be the Minister of Energy on top of his numerous positions including being Minister of Defence, Chancellor of four public universities, MCP president and SADC Chairman.

What has surprised many Malawians is that President Chakwera has quickly moved to fill the few-hours vacancy at the Ministry of Energy in his own favour despite the fact that is has taken many months without filling the vacancies in the Ministries of Transport, Local government and Labour. By assuming more responsibilities, Chakwera is also acting against his own promise of reducing his
roles and powers The Ministries of Transport and Local government became vacant upon the deaths of Sidik Mia and Lingston Belekanyama six months ago.

The ministry of labour fell vacant when Chakwera fired Ken Kandodo for misuse of covid 19 money.

Despite relentless pressure on the president to appoint new ministers in the vacant posts, Chakwera has not moved an inch to fill the posts. However, it has just taken a few hours for him to see the need to have the Energy Ministry post filled, by himself! Only a huge personal benefit moved the president.

In February this year, a whistle blower who pleaded anonymity revealed that President Chakwera through the Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Zangazanga Chikhosi and Minister of Foreign affairs Eiseinhower Mkaka, agreed with some foreign companies to receive a 50 million dollars bribe in exchange for fuel supply contracts at NOCMA.

Chikhosi, who is also the board chairman of NOCMA, made all the arrangements with Deputy CEO of NOCMA, Hellen Buluma to award the contracts to the identified companies. NOCMA then proceeded to get approval from Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA).

The MERA board rejected NOCMA’s application for approval of prices for the suppliers that NOCMA selected citing concerns over overpricing. MERA suggested that NOCMA should select other suppliers (without naming any) or the same but at lower prices as submitted by the majority of the bidders.

The reported difference in cost was a whooping 50 million united states dollars! Still, NOCMA through it’s Deputy CEO, Hellen Buluma fought vehemently in support of its decision to award fuel supply contracts to its selected companies.

As it stands, President Chakwera has total control of NOCMA. He is the Minister of Energy, his Secretary is the board Chairman of NOCMA and MERA has no choice but toe the presidents line. Welcome to servant leadership where the presidents personal benefits are all that matters.

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