This morning in Lilongwe, the (now former) Minister of Energy and Mining, Cassim Chilumpha gave an introductory address at the international conference “Experiences on Revenues: The Role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society in Transparency and Responsible Finance in the Extractive Sector” that we blogged about yesterday. He focussed in short on how the sector can be better governed to ensure that natural resources will not “turn into a curse”.
Shortly after his speech, we learned that the cabinet had been reshuffled and Chilumpha has been axed:
Casualties in the reshuffle include former vice president Cassim Chilumpha and Daniel Liwimbi who have been dropped as Mining and Energy minister and Tourism minister respectively. John Bande who was the Trade and Industry Minister now is Mining Minister while Ibrahim Matola [previously the Deputy Minister for Environment and Climate Change Management] who defected to ruling People’s Party (PP) last week is the Energy Minister.
In addition, the Ministry of Energy and Mining has been split into two ministries: the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Mining.
The full line-up of the new cabinet as well as a comparison with the cabinet as it was on the 26 April can be viewed online at the blog Kumbu’.
Update 7 December: the press and civil society has reacted quite strongly to the cabinet shuffle. In particular, the appointment of Malawi’s Vice President, Khumbo Kachali, to head Malawi’s Electoral Commission has caused much debate among political parties and activists. The Civil Society Organisation, Malawi Electoral Support Network has reportedly responded to this decision with criticism. The chairperson, Steve Duwa said
It is very unwelcome news because our Constitution is quite clear that the body [Electoral Commission, EC] is supposed to be independent and answerable only to Parliament and not to any minister or ministry. […] By placing it under the office of the Vice President it means he will have an overall control of its operations which is constitutionally incorrect. This is a decision that is not helpful to Malawians.
In the same news report, the government has justified the move and the Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Nkukuyu, a government spokesperson said,
The appointment was made to ensure the smooth operations of the EC despite maintaining its independence. His appointment will not in any way interfere with the operations of EC but help the country to have free and fair elections.
This appears to be an example of where the Executive branch has extended its arm too far into the Legislative branch of government. The lack of a clear distinction between the two means that they are often unable to hold each other to account.
It seems president Banda is not concerned with the plight and welfare of Malawians. Instead of hiring a mean cabinet in respect of the ailing economy, she has come back with a bloated cabinet, unfortunately, meant to appease her political allies. Honestly, this is totally unfair to Malawians who are wallowing in poverty due to the high cost of living.
Chilumpha, in response to being dropped from the cabinet as Minister of Energy and Mining, has said that
Life is not static, in or outside the cabinet, it must move on. Am not even bitter that I have been dropped.
Update 1 July 2013: Joyce Banda has reshuffled her cabinet for the second time since she took over presidency in April 2012. The Ministry of Mining and the Ministry of Energy have not been affected. She has also trimmed the cabinet from 36 to 32 by reducing the number of deputy ministers.