Malawi President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has fired eight ministers in his first cabinet reshuffle of 2023, according to a statement from the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Chakwera reduced ministerial posts from 30 to 25 late Tuesday, including deputy ministers and removed ministerial portfolios for himself and deputy Saulos Chilima.
Among those sacked were Information Minister Gospel Kazako, Local Government Minister Blessings Chinsinga, Community Development and Social Welfare Minister Patricia Kaliati and ruling Malawi Congress Party’s Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka, who was Environment Minister.
The Malawi leader dissolved his entire cabinet last year citing corruption allegations against ministers.
Chakwera has replaced the eight ministers with new faces.
“The appointments are with effect from 31st January 2023,” said Colleen Zamba, secretary to the president and Cabinet.
In a surprising move, Chakwera appointed a deputy minister to Local Government, Unity and Culture from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which is led by his predecessor Peter Mutharika.
Recall that Chakwera had vowed in his New Year’s Day address that he will name a new cabinet focused on maximising the country’s limited resources to improve service delivery.
The promise generated interest from a nation that wondered why he should maintain a 30-member cabinet comprising the president, vice president, 20 ministers and eight deputies in a struggling economy.
Mutharika maintained a 20-member cabinet from 2014 to 2019.
Political commentators and experts praised Chakwera for reducing the cabinet.
“The new Cabinet has reduced by 13 percent and 40 percent are women which shows that some progress is being made to have a small Cabinet that is fairly represented,” Humphrey Mvula, a government commentator said.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Michael Kaiyatsa said Chakwera needs to continue to implement austerity measures to save resources.
“I call for a reduction in travels by the President, ministers and other government officials but also a reduction of benefits for Cabinet ministers,” said Kaiyatsa.
Chakwera’s initial 31-member cabinet in July 2020 was criticised for having family members, unequal gender representation and too many ministers from his home district of Lilongwe.