LILONGWE—For all practical purposes, Pres Joyce Banda may have tried to put together a cabinet that would help the governing People’s Party in parliament but some senior members aren’t happy and they've accused the president of making appointments without consultation.
The members, who sought anonymity, disapprove the appointment of individuals like former vice president Cassim Chilumpha who announced his resignation from the United Democratic Front (UDF) on the same day he was appointed minister.
They expressed similar sentiments with the inclusion in cabinet of Henry Dama Phoya who, like Chilumpha, ditched his party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) - he joined MCP earlier this year after he was expelled from the ruling party – before joining cabinet last Thursday. Uladi Mussa dissolved his Maravi People’s Party to join PP and got himself a cabinet portfolio.
PP members say some of the individuals appointed to the cabinet worked against the party when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika was in power. They said Sidik Mia, retained by Banda after she reshuffled the cabinet, was one such individual.
Banda in December 2010 was fired from the DPP after she refused to endorse the president’s brother and then cabinet minister Peter Mutharika as Bingu’s successor. After her sacking, Banda, who was the country’s vice president, formed the People’s Party and became a harsh critic of the Mutharika administration. She was sworn in as president two days after Mutharika’s death on April 5.
PP members say apart from Vice President Khumbo Kachali, Banda’s number two in the party, the president didn’t appoint anyone from the party to her cabinet.
But PP's spokesperson Steven Mwenye said members should understand that Pres Banda wants the government to be able to function since it doesn’t have enough lawmakers in the national assembly where legislation is passed.
"We will have some civic education and explain what exactly is going on,” he said.
It’s not only in PP where members are disappointed with the leadership. Some Malawi Congress Party lawmakers who met following the unveiling of the new cabinet accused their leader John Tembo of deciding on his own to work with Pres Banda.
"We feel that our president negotiated a personal deal with President Banda,” said one MP who didn’t want his name revealed.
Tembo, the MPs said, went alone to meet Banda and he hasn’t told anyone what was discussed. They said all they saw was the appointment of Tembo’s son to a diplomatic position overseas.
The lawmakers said their party could’ve have gotten a better deal if there had been transparency. Opposition Alliance for Democracy, UDF and DPP all have more than one member in the new cabinet.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment