By Thandie Chadzandiyani
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has accused his second in-command, Saulos Chilima, for the delayed Cabinet reshuffle.
President Chakwera promised to announce a new cabinet by March 31, 2021. However, when the time for the announcement, Chakwera who has been accused of being indecisive, called out Vice President Chilima as the reason for the delay.
The President said in a statement that he could not release the cabinet because the assessment report that Chilima had prepared of each minister only landed on the president’s table a few hours before end of Wednesday, March 31.
Chakwera, who seems to be ignorant of his own ministers’ performance, said it would have been unrealistic to go through the report and come up with a a new cabinet.
“Given that the reports are as substantial as the President’s review is thorough, the completion of the task will take a few more days longer than anticipated.
“Even so, the President is now fully seized of the matter and will release his Cabinet the instant he completes this sacred duty in a manner that conforms with the Constitution and ensures the best delivery of service to Malawians,” reads part of the statement.
This is not the first time Chakwera has blamed Chilima. When he appeared in Parliament earlier last month he was asked about the Tonse Alliance government’s delay to implement promises. Chakwera said the delayed promises such as 1 million jobs and cheap passports were in the manifesto of UTM, which is led by Chilima.
Chakwera’s missed the deadline of his own first Cabinet reshuffle since winning the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election held on June 23 2020 saying he needs his more time to review assessment reports submitted by vice-President Chilima.
During the swearing in of his maiden Cabinet in July, 2020 Chakwera told the nation that each of the ministers had five months to produce results and give Malawians hope that change had come.
However, by end of December, the President did not review the Cabinet as promised.
Political analyst Mustapha Hussein of Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, last evening reacted saying the move may create a wrong impression, but added that the President should be given the benefit of the doubt
Hussein however commended the Tonse leadership for subjecting the Cabinet to the performance indicators or assessment known to the public for purposes of accountability.
First Cabinet last July raised some questions in the inclusion of family members, and his native Lilongwe District dominating posts.
He also came under fire, especially from women’s rights groups, for appointing few women into his Cabinet contrary to the expression of the Gender Equality Act which demand 60 to 40 representation of either gender.
In a press conference marking his first 100 days in office, Chakwera promised to remedy the situation which has women groups protesting.
The President shoulders have a great task to meet all these expectations in this new cabinet. He is also expected to make replacements for two portfolios—Transport and Public Works and Local Government—which fell vacant in January after their respective holders Mohammed Sidik Mia and Lingson Belekanyama succumbed to Covid-19.
The President has 12 female ministers, representing 38 percent of the Cabinet. Only four women are full ministers while all eight deputy ministers are women.