On Wednesday night, the new president announced a 31-member cabinet that included six figures who are related to each other, although not to the president.
The new labour and health ministers are brother and sister, while the incoming information minister is the sister-in-law of the new deputy agriculture minister.
Nyondo stated that cabinet appointments had nothing to do with merit but had everything to do with the President's discretion.
He postulated that the Tonse Alliance was too big and the president would naturally struggle to put together his cabinet as everyone would want a share of the juicy positions.
Read his full statement below:
The spirit behind the Constitutional provision granting exclusive right to the sitting President to hire and fire Cabinet, is to let the Head of State run government with people he/she understands are loyal and trustworthy.
This has nothing to do with merit—it has, everything, to do with the President's discretion.
Thats is why, in putting up that 31-member Cabinet, President Lazarus Chakwera is implicitly saying they are people he so trusts and, at the same time, will help him deliver what he promised Malawians.
I have studied several perspectives against his Cabinet, but I shudder to argue that most of them are not necessarily about the question of merit and all those other arguments.
If you read the statements against Chakwera's Cabinet critically, you will note that they are, mostly, driven by ‘sharing the National cake' principle.
I argued, elsewhere, that Tonse Alliance is too heavy and, once in government, the leader will face the challenge of putting up a Cabinet. Why? Because everyone wants those ‘juicy positions.'
They want these juicy positions not to help the President deliver; rather, to use their influence and better their lives and those of their closest ones.
We must never forget that Malawi's economy is, predominantly, State-driven. Ndalama zili ndi boma osati private sector. To mean, those that control government are the ones with access to affluence.
So for President Chakwera, fellow Malawians, the debate shouldn't necessarily be centered on the meritocracy of the composition; rather, questioning if the team chosen has the capacity and capability to help the President deliver his promises.
For now, let's give the President a chance to prove his decisions—if he succeeds, better for all of us; if he fails, well he will have to face the public.
African political commentator and analyst Fidelis Fengu agreed with Ephraim Nyondo stating that Africans have made a habit of over glorifying Cabinet appointments and individuals instead of focusing on systems, checks and balances which keep human nature in check.
Fengu said cabinet ministers are political appointees who should not be allowed to amass wealth or use their influence or position to make fortunes.
He added that we need to put faith in systems that are built to keep politicians and public servants in check.
Fengu said Chakwera had made the right move by stating that he would declare his assets and interests periodically and every public office bearer in Malawi should follow the President's lead to ensure that no one abuses their office or titles.
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