LILONGWE, JAN 25 – Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on Monday dissolved the country’s cabinet citing charges of corruption against several ministers. The move was intended to allow three ministers and various public officials accused of corruption to face their charges.
“I have dissolved my entire cabinet effective immediately, and all the functions of cabinet revert to my office until I announce a reconfigured cabinet in two days,” Chakwera said in a national address.
One of the ousted cabinet members is Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month in a bribery case and is widely believed of benefitting from land deals involving a UK-based Malawian businessman.
Another fired official is Labour Minister Ken Kandodo who was accused of diverting COVID-19 funds, while Energy Minister Newton Kambala was accused of being complacent in the awarding of fuel import deals.
Chakwera will look to reinstate a new cabinet in the next 48 hours
Chakwera is also the head of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the country’s oldest and the biggest in the governing Tonse Alliance.
He had been facing increasing rebellion from within the coalition with many of its members accusing his party of corruption, nepotism and pushing the country to the brink of an economic crisis.
The president’s decision came close on the heels of the arrest of three former officials of the former governing party Democratic Progressive Party, which included the former finance minister and central bank governor, touted to be his prime challengers for the election scheduled in 2025.
According to Al Jazeera: “ECM, an assembly of Malawi’s Catholic bishops, said authorities must ensure that no one is ‘pressurised, intimidated or influenced’ in the pursuit of justice.”
“Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected,” the bishops said in a statement.
Malawi has been identified as one of the world’s poorest countries as nearly three-quarters of the population survive on less than USD $2 a day.
That situation is not made easier as the country is constantly hit hard by floods, prolonged dry spells, crop-destroying pests and the coronavirus pandemic, leaving 15 percent of the population in need of food aid. – Additional Reporting by Al Jazeera