Malawi’s newly elected president has formed government with the appointment of a 31-member Cabinet.
Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, who came into power in June, has also nominated a new police chief, new central bank governor and tax authority head.
The new president of the southeastern African country, who promised 40% female representation and no more than 30 ministers, just narrowly missed his target having appointed 12 female ministers, 38.7% of the Cabinet.
The new Cabinet has, however, angered most Malawians who took to social media to express disappointment with the inclusion of old-timers and “corrupt” individuals.
“The electorate voted for change, but this new Cabinet lacks novelty. It is definitely uninspiring, if not disappointing,” said Danwood Chirwa, a Malawian law professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
He said the new government should have sent a clear message to all and sundry that patronage, corruption and looting will end but to no avail.
“Individuals who have looted before should be investigated and prosecuted, and that new, clean and competent people should lead Malawi,” Chirwa said.
Gender activist Emma Kaliya also described the Cabinet as a raw deal.
“We are deflated that the president has not lived up to the promise of 40% female representation. What is even more saddening is that most women are deputy ministers. His appointments are less inspiring,” Kaliya told The Nation, a local daily.
The Cabinet composition shows that Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party dominates with 16 party members — 12 full ministers and four deputies — representing 51.6%, while Vice President Saulosi Chilima’s United Transformation Movement has six members: four ministers and two deputies, representing 19.4%.
There are also two independent legislators in the new government.
The president had initially named five people to Cabinet positions within days of his election.
In the new announcement, Chakwera also fired acting police inspector general Duncan Mwapasa and director general of National Intelligence Service Kenam Kalilani, replacing them with George Kainja and Dokani Ngwira, respectively.
The new leader has also named Wilson Banda as central bank governor replacing Dalitso Kabambo. Banda is a centrist in monetary policy circles.
Chakwera, 65, defeated former leader Peter Mutharika in June 23 court-sanctioned presidential election re-run.
The soft-spoken ex-preacher garnered 58.57% of the votes against Mutharika’s 39%.
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