President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has pulled a major political surprise by appointing Chikwawa North member of parliament, Owen Chomanika, as deputy minister in the newly-configured cabinet announced late Tuesday.
Previously, the toxicity of Malawi politics has made it almost impossible for any sitting Head of State to appoint members of other hostile political parties into cabinet.
This fulfills the promise President Chakwera made in his National Address on January 1, 2023, that he would not consider political affiliations when appointing his new Cabinet to improve performance and efficiency of the ministers.
Chomanika will deputize Richard Chimwendo Banda at the Ministry of Local Government, Unity and Culture.
Pundits say this is a true reflection of Chakwera’s spirit of national unity as he has tapped from those viewed as his sworn adversaries.
The Malawi leader vowed to part ways with anyone, including those considered political heavyweights, in his efforts to serve the interests and meet the expectations of Malawians who voted him into power.
True to this, the President has removed the two most senior politicians both in Malawi Congress Party and UTM. MCP Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka, and his UTM counterpart Patricia Kaliati, have been shown the exit door.
Instead, President Chakwera has brought in a few new faces who include Dr. Ken Zikhale Ng’oma as Minister of Homeland Security, Simplex Chithyola Banda as Minister of Trade and Industry, Uchizi Mkandawire, who will serve as Ministry of Youth and Sports, and Moses Kunkuyu, who replaces revered broadcaster and media owner Gospel Kazako at the Minister of Information and Digitalization.
Kazako has been dropped from the new Cabinet. The Malawi leader has also appointed Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima as Minister of Education replacing Agnes Makonda NyaLonje who has been moved to the Ministry of Labour.
President Chakwera has promoted Harry Mkandawire to full minister at the Ministry of Defence while former Minister of Homeland Security Jean Muonaowauza Sendeza has been moved to Ministry of Gender replacing Patricia Kaliati who has been dropped.
Deus Gumba has assumed the position of a full minister at the Minister of Lands – a portfolio that fell vacant after Sam Kawale was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Comedian-cum-politician Michael Usi has been moved to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change.
Another new entrant in the cabinet is Liana Kakhobwe who will deputize Abida Mia at the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.
Apart from Kazako and Kaliati, other casualties in the new Cabinet include former human rights activist Timothy Mtambo, who served as Minister of National Unity, and Mark Katsonga Phiri who served as Minister of Trade and Industry, and Albert Mbawala who was the Minister of Mining.