Sunday, May 22, 2022

Malawi’s President Fires Cabinet Over Corruption Charges

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Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has dissolved the country’s entire cabinet amid charges of corruption against several ministers, he announced in an address to the nation.

Late on Monday, President Chakwera said that he had decided to allow the three ministers and other public officers accused of corruption to face their charges.

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“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.

He added that the reconfigured cabinet will exclude Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month in a bribery case.

Msukwa is accused of benefitting from land deals involving a UK-based Malawian businessman.

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Meanwhile, Labour Minister Ken Kandodo is accused of diverting COVID-19 funds and Energy Minister Newton Kambala was accused of meddling in the awarding of fuel import deals.

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.

Continuing crisis

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, with nearly three-quarters of the population living on less than $2 a day.

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The Southern African nation is amongst the smallest countries in the continent 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.

Though small in size, it features in the top 10 in Africa in terms of population density.

Chakwera, who is also the head of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the country’s oldest and the biggest in the governing Tonse Alliance, said he would look to reinstate a new cabinet in the next 48 hours.

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.

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