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Kabwila, Mkandawire’s nutty quest for quotas in cabinet selection

The just ended presidential and parliamentary elections have revealed that Malawians have grown politically. It is a good development as they can no longer be taken for granted. Ask former President Joyce Banda what happened in the May elections after handing out maize and cows if you think I am exaggerating.

What is also interesting is the number of Independent MPs elected to the august house. The huge increase signifies that we are slowly but surely maturing in the way our candidates are vetted. In the past, it was the party and not the individual which reigned supreme.

After the election is over, the winner has to be treated as such but there are those who refuse to acknowledge the obvious and that will be seen in the way business is conducted in the House. The Speaker of Parliament and the President are from different parties which certainly will impact deliberations.

Regardless, the Speaker and the President have to exercise their powers as enshrined in our constitution for the benefit of the people. The Speaker however has more political power in the House and if that power is abused it could be paralyze government.

One of the powers given to the President is the appointment of cabinet to manage the public service. Cabinet ministers are politicians who serve at the pleasure of the president. In other words, the president can hire and fire them without consequences. They cannot sue for unfair termination.

More often the cabinet is composed of members from the president’s inner circle, party loyalists and technocrats. The president rewards those who helped him or her win with high profile positions and that development should not cause an uproar as long as they are qualified to successfully carry out the demands of their respective positions.

Apart from performing well in their positions, a president wants people he or she could trust. For that reason, it is naïve to think the president has to pick anyone for sake of satisfying certain constituencies.

In my view Muthalika should be commended for living up to his promise of a lean cabinet which I am sure must have infuriated some of his supporters who lost out on some lucrative cabinet positions by virtue of a much smaller cabinet.

I do agree that regionalism, sexism, racism, gender or quota in education system should not be part of decision making process in our society. The focus instead should be on what one can do, regardless of place of origin.

New lawmakers Jessie Kabwila and Harry Mkandawire continue to challenge Muthalika’s cabinet as regionalistic. What the two members of parliament are propagating is the quota system. They would like a proportional representation in the cabinet.

Ironically, Kabwila, who was a prominent lecturer, did not voice her concern when the quota system was reintroduced in the selection of students to the University of Malawi. Mkandawire, who once belonged to the ruling party before his expulsion, was against the quota system which he now wants when choosing a cabinet.

Members of Parliament are free to speak their mind which includes making ridiculous statements and we also have the right to call them out. I am still keeping my fingers crossed, expecting fruitful deliberations in parliament.

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