The long-awaited meeting between the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and President Peter Mutharika on Friday brought out sticky issues that included his appointment of Cabinet comprising ministers mostly from the same region.
PAC, which met Mutharika at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, said it has no problems with the size of the Cabinet, but the personalities.
Committee chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota told the President that his choice of the Cabinet, largely from his stronghold, the Southern Region, may have (a negative) impact on good governance.
Chingota also cautioned Mutharika that the firing of senior officers in the civil service after the change of government in May concerns PAC.
Other issues PAC presented to Mutharika included economic hardships the country is going through, the call for a healthy debate on federalism and the need for fast-tracking electoral reforms.
After the meeting, which proceeded in camera after introductory remarks, PAC publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole of the Catholic Church told journalists that the President told the PAC delegation that he chose his Cabinet based on members of Parliament (MPs) his party has.
Mulomole said the President also said that most of his MPs are from the Southern Region and wondered how else he should have done it since traditionally Cabinet ministers are picked from parliamentary representatives one has.
Mulomole further said Mutharika had no problems with PAC organising a conference on federalism which is expected to take place in Blantyre this week.
In earlier occasions, the President has said that he has no problems with the debate on federalism, as long as it is done in good faith and for the general good of the country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda, who attended the meeting, told journalists that the President picked some technocrats that are not MPs into his Cabinet from other regions such as Minister of Finance (Goodall Gondwe), Minister of Justice (Samuel Tembenu) and Minister of Housing and Lands (Bright Msaka).
Chaponda said PAC also expressed concern over lenient sentences passed to embezzlers of public funds in the infamous Cashgate, but said the President’s response was that it is a matter of the Judiciary which is an independent arm of government.
He said the President suggested to PAC—which commended government on progress of Cashgate cases—they could as well engage the Judiciary.