Aug 23, 2017 Last Updated 7:51 AM, Aug 23, 2017
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Malawi president Peter Mutharika has dodged commenting on the judicial support staff strike which is in its third week now.

The president presided over the swearing in ceremony of two new judges at Sanjika palace on Tuesday, but made no mention of the strike, which has crippled the justice system.

He instead called for commitment and impartiality among the newly sworn-in judges, when discharging their duties.

The new judges are Thomson Ligowe and Jack Nriva, and their appointments were effective June 29th this year.

Mutharika challenged the judiciary to ensure efficiency in the justice delivery system, by hearing and concluding cases on time.

Robert Mkwezalamba who is Chairperson of the Human Rights Consultative committee told Capital FM that the matter should be treated with utmost urgency.

Mkwezalamba stresses that the country cannot continue to be run without a functioning judicial system.

He advises the mediator to move with speed to ensure that justice seekers are not rendered hopeless.

The mediator, lawyer Mordecai Msiska, is expected to give his determination on the matter this week.

This follows a meeting last Friday, involving representatives of the government and the striking judiciary support staff.

The workers are pushing for the provision of housing allowances, which they claim the government has failed to honour for years now.

The strike has rendered a lot of people desperate, as cases are not being heard in courts.

The National Audit Office reveals it has concluded an audit of all of Malawi’s foreign Missions.

President Peter Mutharika ordered the audit following the abuse of over MK300 million at the Malawi Mission in Ethiopia.

This saw Malawi’s Former Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia, Doreen Kapanga, and Fletcher Chowe, who was first secretary for administration and finance, being suspended and recalled from the mission.

Both are currently on bail after being arrested in connection to the abuse of funds.

The theft was detected when Chowe allegedly wrote a cheque of $30,000 in his name which was signed by Kapanga.

Commenting on the issue, Public Relations Officer for the National Audit Office Radson Kagwamminga says the report has been submitted to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for action.

The ten embassies in the report include London, Brussels, Berlin, Tokyo, New Delhi, Beijing, Dubai, Cairo, Johannesburg and Dodoma.

According to a preliminary audit report which was released early last year, MK184 million is said to have been diverted into personal accounts at Malawi’s embassy in Ethiopia in a period of 12 months.

Grand theft by civil servants has been blamed for loss of not less than 30 percent of government revenue prompting the country’s donors to withhold budgetary support.

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.

Critics in Malawi have described the firing of Peter Kumpalume who was minister of health from cabinet as politically motivated

President Mutharika through the Office of the President and Cabinet announced a cabinet reshuffle yesterday that has seen Kumpalume being replaced by Atupele Muluzi.

One of the newcomers in the cabinet, Anna Kachikho, is now the Minister of Lands and Housing, replacing Muluzi.

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 and Aggrey Massi the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.

Joseph Mwanamveka is the new Minister of Agriculture, a position which fell vacant after the firing of George Chaponda some months ago.

Muluzi who is  the son of Malawi's former presiden Bakili Muluzi is a lawyer by proffession while Kumpalume is a medical doctor.

Speaking to Capital FM, Enerst Thindwa who is a political commentator insisted that the change will have no impact on the ordinary Malawian.

“Such reshuffles do not really make a difference in terms of how government operates.”

“The only change may come only in the upcoming elections because this was probably a strategic move hoping to make a difference in the upcoming tripartite election,” Thindwa added.

Another commentator Happy Kayuni said he was surprised that Kumpalume had been fired.

According to Kayuni, Kumpalume did his best despite a few setbacks here and there.

This his the third reshuffle by President Mutharika since his appointment into office in 2014.

He has maintained the number of ministers which is 20.

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

Transport-Jappie Mhango

Civic Education-Cecelia Chazama

Everton Chimulilinji-Deputy Defence

Clement Mkumbwa-Deputy Gender

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