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Chakwera’s Maiden Cabinet | WRONG FIRST IMPRESSION? 

Author: Karen M. Lombe

“Nepotistic. Tribalism. Hypocritical. Disappointing.”

These are some of the words enraged Malawians raised to describe the maiden Cabinet of the new Malawi leader, Lazarus Chakwera. The list was announced on the evening of Wednesday, 8 July 2020, and before nightfall, Malawians were in full resistance. Realizing the power of social media, Malawians took to their respective platforms to express their anger. Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were busy that night and the morning that followed.

Not unexpected, others were in full support of the new Cabinet. They simply did not find a problem with it. As a matter of fact, they are eager to see how it would perform. They will be watching with excitement, obviously.

Why were many Malawians in disapproval of the new cabinet members? What is it exactly that they would have loved to see changed if the Cabinet was to be reshuffled? And for those in full support of the new cabinet, why is it that they were seeing differently, that the majority of Malawian were missing?

Nepotism, many said. On account of many people who expressed their displeasure at the composition of the Cabinet, it was conspicuous that they felt the list reeked of nepotism. Ironically, it is a vice they thought they had done away with when they voted DPP out on 23 June, after all, the Tonse Alliance campaigned on a promise to end the same. Indeed, the first Cabinet of the new administration is comprised of families, in-laws, mothers and sons. People were in disapproval of the presence of both Sadik Mia, the vice president of MCP, Abida, his wife on the list. They were also not amused by Roy Kachale-Banda, son to Former President, Joyce, who is a senior member of the Tonse Alliance. Here are some of the thoughts Malawians expressed on twitter;

@PempheroMphande “it’s not that we had any people in mind left out. It’s that we are coming from a struggle and campaign that promised so much especially new ways of politics. To some of us, it was not just about taking Muntharika out, but also putting in power leadership that promised a change in systems and habits towards political governance. This cabinet inspires the opposite.” He went on to list a number of those expectations that were let down by the new cabinet. “Nepotism, bloated-Appeasements, tribalism, conflicts of interest, etc” he also stated that to him, it seems like founders and parties decided to share Malawi to their families.

Zodiak Media journalist Daniel Mababa, also shared his opinion on his account @Mababason “Giving the ‘appointees’ a chance to perform may not be the issue for me. Everyone can be a minister. The issue is that Chakwera and Chilima have missed the CHANCE to prove what they have been preaching. Average to below mark for me.”

@Sarah_Kumwenda also chipped in, “The new cabinet is scandalous. It has nepotism written all over it which we clearly aren’t impressed with, not to mention families. We just changed government from Lhomwe’s to Chewa’s really. This wasn’t the change we fought for, we are back to square one.”

She later on had another unpopular opinion saying “you reap what you sow. I think Mia and Abida deserve it! zina tizivomeleza. Even the bible says aliyense azadya Thukuta Lake and they did fight for the party!! Let’s wait for them to deliver!!”

Twitter user @DennisChisale  was somehow kind, saying that he understood why some of the controversial names had made the list;  “I don’t understand why people are so concerned with the cabinet, those people sacrificed everything. In fact, Mia had everything taken away from him because he lost so much money.”

And many more.

It seems like Malawians had different expectations on what would constitute the new administration’s maiden Cabinet. It was an understandable expectation, needless to say. The reason Malawians came out in large numbers to support the Tonse Alliance is because it promised a departure for the DPP’s way of running the country, which was rooted in cronyism, tribalism, nepotism and such other isms. To have the first Cabinet of an administration that was expected to deliver change just revert to the old ways may have been heartbreaking to Malawians who trusted in the ‘change’ narrative.

The outcry was so loud that State House took notice. During an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Chakwera acknowledged to have been made aware of the concerns Malawians had on the Cabinet. He promised to address the concerns on Friday, which he did during the swearing in ceremony of the new appointees.

When he did address the nation on the concerns however, nothing changed. The ministers took oath, to the assurance that they are on a 5-month probation to prove the nation wrong. What Malawians made of the address is not quite clear. Perhaps only time will tell if they were right to be displeased by the first Cabinet.

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