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Days after Religious Leaders in Malawi Call for Cabinet Reshuffle, President Takes Action

The Chairperson of PAC Executive Committee, Mons. Patrick Thawale, during their Tuesday, January 18 meeting with President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Days after religious leaders in Malawi called on the Head of State to appoint a new Cabinet, the President of the Southern African nation on Monday, January 24, announced the dissolution of his “entire cabinet effective immediately.”

“Your Excellency, reshuffle the Cabinet and appoint a competent Secretary to the President and Cabinet. Consider changes in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well, for there seems to be reputational challenges,” leaders of various religious groups in Malawi under their umbrella organization, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), told President Lazarus Chakwera January 18.

In a speech that was given by Mons. Patrick Thawale who previously served as Diocesan Administrator of Malawi’s Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, the religious leaders added, “In fact, the current Cabinet seems to be a spectator in their leadership style.”

In his January 24 national address dissolving the Malawian Cabinet, President Chakwera has been quoted as saying, “I have dissolved my entire cabinet effective immediately, and all the functions of cabinet revert to my office until I announce a reconfigured cabinet in two days.”

The reconfigured Cabinet, the Malawian President added, will exclude the immediate former Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month in a bribery case, "to allow him to answer the corruption charges he is facing in court and clear his name there." 

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He explained that the decision to exclude Mr. Msukwa from the Cabinet to be reconfigured was made following the receipt of an official Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report on the charges the Minister is facing.

President Chakwera is also said to have given a stern warning to ACB Director, Martha Chizuma for making public revelations about a high-level corruption in a phone conversation. Details of the graft case were leaked to the public.

In his January 24 national address, the Malawian Head of State confirmed that the leaked conversation by ACB boss, Ms. Chizuma, is authentic and constitutes misconduct on her part. 

The President, however, announced that he will retain Ms. Chizuma at ACB and monitor her progress. 

“I have determined that the best thing to do in this instance is to keep a watchful eye on her general conduct of the bureau's affairs in order to ensure that there are no other incidents of concern about her fitness for office going forward,” he said.

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Ms. Chizuma allegedly told a friend that judges and magistrates in Malawi have been receiving bribes in a leaked phone conversation. 

She reportedly said that a case that her office is currently working on will not be won in the courts alone but through public pressure because “the judge has already been bribed. We knew before going to court; the case was on Friday but we knew by Wednesday that something was wrong.” 

Last week, Catholic Bishops in Malawi called on the government to beef up the security of Ms. Chizuma and all ACB employees after a politician accused the Anti-Corruption officials of allowing foreign agencies to dictate its operations in the prosecution of a British businessman.

“We appeal to the Head of State, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Vice President, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and all relevant State institutions and their Heads to ensure the security of the ACB staff; especially the Director General,” members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) said in their January 19 statement.

ECM members added that no Malawian “should be pressurized, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the carrying out of their work for the good of the country.”

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