Tension and divisions marred the just-ended Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament interviews for diplomatic posts as members noted that most of the candidates selected were from the so-called Lhomwe belt of Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje and Phalombe districts.
At the end of the day, PAC rejected four names of Ambassador-designate to Brazil Edward Sawerengera, High Commissioner-designate to South Africa Chrissie Kaponda, Ambassador-designate to Egypt Yunus Mussa and Ambassador-designate to Germany Voice Mhone.
Reasons cited for rejecting the appointees ranged from a lack of qualifications to having contracts with government, among others, according to a source.
However, four candidates—Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union Ted Kalebe, Ambassador to the United States of America Necton Mhura, Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union (AU) Chimango Chirwa and High Commissioner to Mozambique Frank Viyazyi—were approved.
In an interview yesterday, PAC chairperson Lingson Belekanyama referred The Nation to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) for information.
He said: “Our job was to do interviews and make recommendations and that is what has been done. As for their performances, I cannot say. You will need to speak to Chief Secretary for that specific information.”
When contacted, Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said he was yet to see the recommendations from PAC.
“Yes, I know about the interviews, but I have not seen the PAC’s recommendations, therefore cannot comment,” he said.
But another source within the committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was tension due to the calibre of the majority of the candidates.
According to the source, for instance, Mhone told the committee his mother was from Thyolo whereas Chimango Chirwa said his father was from Euthini in Mzimba, but his mother was from Mulanje.
Said the source: “Mhura and Sawerengera [a former Chief of Staff for former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika] both come from Chiradzulu.”
The source added that Kaponda had links with the Lhomwe tribal grouping, Mulhako wa Alhomwe, but also had unspecified contracts with government and failed to convince the committee whether these would be terminated on her appointment.
Among those who made it, the source said, Kalebe was seen as more highly qualified and experienced for his posting while Mhura’s experience in the public sector and qualification also worked in his favour despite his Lhomwe origins.