In an apparent response to the exclusion of Vice-President Saulosi Chilima from the recent reshuffled Cabinet list, President Peter Mutharika on Friday hit back at his critics, saying appointment into Cabinet is not an honorary position.
Speaking on Friday during swearing in of new Cabinet members that included one Minister and three deputy ministers at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, the President dismissed those criticising his decision to leave out of the Cabinet his estranged deputy, saying the matter is not a constitutional issue.
Mutharika, who seemed in a serious mood, avoided mentioning Chilima’s name, and kept referring to the Veep as ‘someone’.
He said: “We are here to collectively drive policies that should make a difference in the lives of Malawians. Therefore, you need to subscribe to the policies of this government. Either you are part of my Cabinet, or you are not part of my Cabinet, and that’s what is going to be.”
According to Mutharika, who is a law professor, there is no need to include into Cabinet a person who does not subscribe to the policies of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government.
But some law experts have faulted Mutharika for the move, saying it is a threat to constitutionalism.
In an earlier interview, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Alfred Majamanda pointed out that provision in Section 92(1) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that the Vice-President should be part of Cabinet.
Turning to his new members of Cabinet, Mutharika hailed the new crop, describing them as “trustworthy and having potential to contribute to development of the country”.
The newly sworn Cabinet members are Everton Chimulirenji, promoted from Deputy Minister of Defence to Minister of Civic, Education, Culture and Community Development; Charles Mchacha as Deputy Minister for Homeland Security, Amosi Mailosi as Deputy Minister of Defence and Welani Chilenga as Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining,
However, Mutharika warned them against indulging in corrupt activities, but work towards safeguarding the public pulse by being transparent and accountable in their dealings.
He said: “Corruption is an evil that must be fought out of our society. It is a collective responsibility of us all to fight corruption. Currently, our rate of corruption control is at 65 percent, according to Millennium Challenge Corporation [MCC] report just released this week. But we need to fight more. Join me in the fight.”
In an interview after being sworn–in Mchacha said he will not tone down in defending his party from people, who he said are bent at disrespecting Mutharika.
Mchacha, who is also legislator for Thyolo West Constituency, has come under fire for his abusive words towards women.
However, he singled out women in UTM as the ones he was directing his insults and not all women in the country as it is being portrayed in the media.
He said: “I am now wearing two hats—as a deputy minister I will speak on behalf of government and on the other hand. I am still the regional governor for DPP and I will continue to defend my party. I owe no one an apology.”