Economists are describing the tendency by Malawi leaders to mismatch people’s skills and capabilities when appointing cabinet as a catalyst for disaster.
It follows observations that the country’s presidents, both past and present, continue to disregard a person’s professional discipline when bringing them on board to serve as cabinet ministers.
Only an exceptional number has managed to defy the odds by performing exceptionally well.
Yesterday, the office of the president and cabinet announced a new list of ministers, which includes three new faces.
It is the President’s prerogative to appoint persons he sees fit to his cabinet, and he equally holds the right to make changes to his appointed cabinet from time to time.
And this is exactly what President Peter Mutharika has done by making changes to his cabinet.
The public, civil society organisations and various commentators have on each occasion such changes have been made, expressed their views both for and against.
One thing that has often come up as a concern is the mismatch between the appointees’ skills and the responsibilities given to them.
For instance, in the recent reshuffle, trained barrister and former Lands Minister Atupele Muluzi now heads the Health Ministry.
Civil Engineer Francis Kasaila was moved from his field as a transport and public infrastructure minister to Foreign Affairs, where he has again been shifted to sports.
Ernest Thindwa who is a political commentator strongly believes the mismatch is influenced by the political appeasement policy which the country’s presidents pursue, as a way of showing appreciation for loyalty to party officials and other sympathisers.
Analysis by Earlene Chimoyo
Some people have been left to wonder as to exactly what bearing such decisions have on the local struggling economy?
In some way, the whole idea of having a minister who in the end may just be a figure head, with less knowledge and expertise in that respective field does have its downside.
In economists Collen Kalua’s view, factors such as austerity may not work really well in such scenarios, and the issue of sectoral priorities also becomes a concern.
There have been some cases where the country paid dearly for skills misplacement in cabinet.
Take for example when a Linguist was left with the responsibility of manning the country’s finances, Cashgate erupted under his watch.
It has not always been bad however as there have been situation where other cabinet ministers have gone on to post impressive results even when placed in a ministry that is not within their field.
For example, there was one cabinet minister under the then UDF regime that put in star performance when he was deployed at Health, Agriculture and Finance ministries.
There was also another individual that put in a notable performance when deployed at the sports ministry under the Bingu Wa Mutharika regime, regardless of his professional background.
It is better however to have an economist head the finance ministry, a health specialist for health, crop scientist or an agronomist to lead agriculture, a lawyer to lead justice, a geologist or an environmentalist to lead mining, environment and wildlife and the list goes on.
This is however no guarantee that the person would work wonders, just because it is their field.
The public will most likely a lot of government spending over the next two months through what is described as familiarisation tours for these new ministers.
This puts a dent on taxpayers’ money, but whether the ministers will perform in their new roles or not, only time will be the best judge.
Peter Kumpalume and Vincent Ghambi have been dropped from the cabinet, in a reshuffle announced by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on Monday afternoon.
Kumpalume has since been replaced by Atupele Muluzi, while Ghambi who was deputy minister of defense has been replaced by Everton Chimulilinji.
Henry Mussa is now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism; he has been replaced by Francis Kasaila in the Ministry of Labour, Sport and Youth Development.
Emmanuel Fabiano is the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Bright Msaka being appointed as the Education Minister.
Joseph Mwanamveka is the new Minister of Agriculture, a position which was vacant after the firing of George Chaponda months ago.
Aggrey Massi who was the deputy Minister of Agriculture is now a full Minister responsible for Natural Resources and Mining.
Other newcomers in the cabinet are Everton Chimulilinji who has been appointed as the Deputy Minister of Defence, replacing Ghambi and Clement Mkumbwa who is now the Deputy Minister of Gender.
There are no changes in other ministerial positions.
President Mutharika has also appointed Charles Mhango as the new Attorney General.
Here is the full list:
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism-Henry Mussa
Minister Of Health-Atupele Muluzi
Minister of Agriculture– Joseph Mwanamveka
Minister of Foreign Affairs-Emmanuel Fabiano- Foreign Affairs
Mining and Natural Resources-Aggrey Massi
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development–Anna Kachikho
Minister of Education-Bright Msaka
Minister of Gender-Jean Kalilani
Minister of Local Government-Kondwani Nankhumwa
Minister of Home Affairs-Grace Chiumia
Minister of Information-Nicholas Dausi
Minister of Labour– Francis Kasaila
Minister Of Justice-Samuel Tembenu
Civic Education-Cecelia Chazama
Everton Chimulilinji-Deputy Defence
Clement Mkumbwa-Deputy Gender
Seed companies in Malawi are urging government to support their bid to trade in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), as one way of increasing international trade within the continent.
Through their parent organisation, the Seed Trade Association of Malawi (STAM) the traders are calling for strategic partnerships to make Malawians aware of the importance of cultivating genetically modified crops.
The call comes following increased cases of pests that are destroying crops countrywide.
Speaking on the sidelines of a consultative meeting organised by the African Seed Trade Association and the STAM held on Tuesday in Lilongwe, Nessimu Nyama, and Secretary of STAM noted that time for commercialisation of GMOs had come and that government needs to move fast and state its position on the technology to let trade thrive in it.
Currently, Malawi does not trade in any genetically modified products but trials and national performance trials on cotton and cow peas have been successfully carried out and are set for commercialisation.
The seed companies noted that as farmers prepare to start commercial cultivation of Bt cotton, it was time they started to discuss how conventionally grown cotton will co-exist with the Bt cotton.
Trials on genetically modified crops have been done on cassava, bananas, cowpeas and cotton.
According to Nyama, the seed sector in the country stands to reap big in the projected $73 billion global seed industry if the government spoke out in support of the technology besides supporting efforts by the seed companies.
“Given that Africa only contributes 2% of the global share in the global seed industry, Malawi, endowed with good weather and soils, could take advantage and grow more for export than for local consumption,” said the secretary.
“For instance looking at cotton, there are a lot of diseases and pests attacking the crop so there is need to have new technologies that will eradicate these challenges and make the crops healthier. Every technology comes with merit and demerits so people have to be sensitised,” he added.
On her part, Dr Wezzie Mkwaila, a senior lecturer in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) said Malawi is adequately equipped to start using GMOs.
“We have basic infrastructures to venture into this and that is why we have successfully conducted trials on cow pea and cotton. Bananas are also being tested for virus resistance and there are many potential crops like soy beans and cassava that are being developed in other countries that have a potential to benefit Malawi,’’ Mkwaila said.
The seed association has begun to discuss a draft position paper that will state their official stand on GMOs and the co-existence of these products. The draft will be ready by July this year.
Delegates to the recent 5+1 All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) are devising measures that will compel the government to implement the recommendations made at the indaba.
It follows the release of a final communiqué by the PAC Board on Wednesday.
It has also adopted the recommendations and the resolutions by the delegates, drawn from the civil society, the academia, political parties and the clergy.
Among the recommendations and resolutions contained in the communiqué are; the holding of demonstrations over abuse of the state controlled broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) by the government, and the undertaking of Electoral reforms, with emphasis on 50%+1 and Constituency Tally Centre.
The PAC also accuses the Malawi government of selective justice, citing the failure by investigating agencies to arrest former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda over the botched ADMARC maize deal.
There are time frames for action to be taken on these recommendations within the ranges of 30 to 90 days.
To those who attended the conference, the communiqué is a true reflection of what they presented;
One of the country’s Human Rights defenders Billy Mayaya said the resolutions reflect what transpired at the meeting and therefore we urge government to create a roadmap on how it will act.
The government side on its part accuses PAC leadership of failing to stamp its authority.
Speaking to Capital FM, Mavuto Bamusi who is the Presidential Advisor on Non-governmental Organisations disclosed that what remains is for PAC to demonstrate true leadership and make sure that the recommendations were made with emotion and some politically motivated should not appear as though they represent all the delegates.
Chairperson of PAC, Felix Chingota, insists that they did the best they could do.
According to Chingota during the meeting they did mention that there were some issues may require dialogue to solve and not just an ultimatum.
President Peter Mutharika has on several occasions said it publicly, that his government does not work on ultimatums.
The 5+1 All Inclusive Stakeholders Conference was held earlier this month under the theme “The State of Governance and Public Trust – Reclaiming Our Destiny”
PAC was founded in 1992 by the religious community and other pressure groups in the country to enter into a dialogue with Former late President Kamuzu Banda’s Presidential Committee on Dialogue in the transition period from the one-party to the multiparty system of government.
Most accounts of the transition credit PAC with a major role at this crucial point in the younger history of Malawi.
Communities in Chitipa district last week petitioned government through the District Commissioner to swiftly act on the alleged deteriorating standards of the public health service delivery in the district within three months from the delivery of the petition.
They reveal that their move emanates from lack of medical facilities and equipment coupled with poor relationships between medical personnel and patients among others.
Through the chairperson of the pastors fraternal, Silent Mtambo, after conducting peaceful mass demonstrations that were organised by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in the district, communities have submitted their petition to the district commissioner.
He added that they are demanding government to resolve five health issues like lack of ambulances, poor health infrastructures and road networks, shortage of drugs and medical equipments, unqualified health personnel and budget expenditure disclosure.
The development comes barely two weeks after community members in Karonga petitioned government against poor health service delivery from the district’s health institutions through mass protests against the matter.
Kameme Health Centre which caters for Malawian nationals in Chitipa and some neighboring nationals from Zambia and Tanzania is also crippled with inadequate drugs, poor mode of transport and shortage of qualified medical personnel but also lack of transparency and accountability on the procurement of drugs and utilization of funds allocated to the ministry of health (MoH).
Furthermore, at Misuku Hill there are at least three health centers like Misuku, Mwandambo and Chisaso to provide health services to the populace but ironically, the institutions operate without potable water spiced with understaffing as it is the case with Wenya health Centre a scenario that is likely to result into disease outbreak.
Unlike in Karonga where the District Commissioner (DC), Richard Hara who did not comment after receiving the petition on Monday 5 June, his colleague in Chitipa district, Grace Chirwa acknowledged the receipt of the petition.
Chirwa assured community members that she will convey the message to the central government so that their concerns are addressed within the time frame as indicated in the petition.
Speaking to Capital FM in response to the response by the Chitipa DC, the project officer for the CCJP which financed and facilitated the demonstrations, Abel Malumbira said as a civil society organisation, they continue pressing on government until they see to it that the needs of the populace are met.
Malumbira emphasized on the need for such change in the northern districts of Karonga and Chitipa by empowering community members to be vigilant in demanding quality health services.