from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – RECENTLY accused of turning Malawi into a dictatorship, President Lazarus Chakwera has lurched into a plethora of nepotism controversy with the positing of individuals linked to him and allies to serve in the county’s diplomatic missions.
This is in stark contrast of the man who repeatedly denounced his predecessor of appointing family members and relatives to government posts.
Ending nepotism was a central pledge during his election campaign in 2020.
However, in what is apparently a growing pattern by the president, he has in the latest such decision appointed his daughter, Violet, to serve at Malawi’s embassy in Belgium as Third Secretary.
The appointment is one of several the president has ratified as the county rejigs its foreign missions amid allegations of maladministration and the recent embarrassment Malawi suffered when some envoys were expelled from South Africa for engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol.
Critics have noted Violet’s endorsement to serve in Brussels followed the recent appointment of Margaret Kamoto, mother-in-law to Vice-President Saulos Chilima as Malawi High Commissioner to neighbouring Zambia.
Chilima was also the vice president in the immediate past administration of Peter Mutharika before he was fired.
Chilima’s United Transformation Movement is part of the Tonse Alliance that mobilised the opposition to defeat Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in last year’s historic elections.
Following his inauguration, the president appointed his son-in-law, Sean Kampondeni, as director of communications at State House.
Another individual who earned a place in Chakwera’s inaugural cabinet is Roy Kachale, son to former president Joyce Banda.
The People’s Party of Banda is also part of the Tonse Alliance. She is one of the principals.
More than 70 percent of ministers in Chakwera’s 31-member cabinet were from central Malawi, seen as Chakwera’s traditional stronghold. The country’s sixth president since independence in 1964, he was born in the capital Lilongwe in the then-Nyasaland.
Chakwera’s appointments have incurred the wrath of the public in the impoverished Southern African nation.
“From a staunch critic of nepotistic appointments as an opposition frontrunner, Chakwera has transformed into its biggest advocate overnight,” said political analyst, Osias Kapesa.
“This is hypocritical of the president. The appointment of his daughter, no matter how qualified as we are made to believe, is a new low in a string of nepotistic appointments,” the critic added.
The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is also concerned at the trend.
This will be one of the issues on the agenda when the organisation meets Chakwera to discuss issues prevailing in the county.
It could not be ascertained when the meeting would be held.
“Malawians are complaining that relatives to the President are monopolising top public positions,” Clifford Matonga, the PAC spokesperson, told media.
Founded in 1992 during the Malawi’s political transition from one party to multi-party system of government, PAC is a religious group with a mission to reduce undemocratic practices, political and religious intolerance in Malawi.
Last month, as he announced his government was realigning the process to select envoys to represent the country in foreign missions, Chakwera said, “This is a departure from the past practice of filling our embassies with cronies without due process or due diligence.”
Chakwera said the selection process would be “thorough, legal, meticulous and objective, prioritising our national interest.”
His government has recently come under criticism from civil society for alleged dictatorial tendencies amid plans to enact the Labour Relations (Amendment) and Income Tax Bills as well as alleged tampering with the judiciary.
Kampondeni, at a media briefing at the State House, dismissed the criticism levelled against his principal, including the allegations of corruption levelled against the government by Mutharika.
– CAJ News