Representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) have expressed mixed reactions towards President Peter Mutharika’s piecemeal assembly of his Cabinet which saw nine new faces hired and sworn in on Thursday.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine said in an interview much as Malawians are not expecting angels, the piecemeal approach is a step towards putting in place a fully and functional Cabinet.
She said: “There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed, and what the President has done is a good step. In addition, the people that have been selected seem fit to take up the challenge.
“What should be noted, however, is that Malawians have high expectations from this government, but the President, so far, is showing good signs and it is only fair to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
On his part, political commentator Mustapha Hussein applauded the Cabinet, but expressed dissatisfaction as it lacked some members. He pointed out that the normal practice is that ministers are appointed at a go, and not in bits and pieces, as this has some implications.
He said: “A piecemeal Cabinet [appointment] has an effect on performance in Parliament because the responsible ministers are not there [in person] to respond and provide guidance on some of the issues being raised by other stakeholders. In the end, it becomes difficult.”
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe faulted the President on regional balance of his Cabinet so far. He noted that most of the ministers chosen are from the Southern Region and this could hinder development.
For her part, gender activist Seode White, who is also national coordinator of Women and Law in Southern Africa (Wilsa) Trust Malawi Chapter, said it is difficult to gauge the gender aspect because the President indicated that he would appoint a Cabinet of about 20 people.
She said: “But we hope that there will be higher number of women representation in the remaining Cabinet appointments.”