Its Brand New Second hand

When I heard that Joyce Banda had announced a new cabinet, I quickly checked who these ‘new’ ministers were, only to find pretty much the same old Malawi cabinet almost fully intact. I was saddened, dismayed to see such a golden opportunity recklessly squandered.

Okay, I read a number of opinions last week that suggested that any talk of a new cabinet with all new faces was all cock and bull. It simply wasn’t going to happen. But I didn’t think Joyce Banda would be that short-sighted to hold onto as many old wineskins as she has. Why did she remove only five ministers? Wouldn’t it have been more logical (and sensible) to dismiss the five, and appoint new ones in their place, if it was the case that ‘Cashgate’ was partly their handiwork? Which idiots are advising this president?

For me moving people around from one ministry to the next when State House has just found itself at the centre of a massive corruption scandal is far from being a solution. It is in fact adding to the damage and, probably no more than recycling inefficiencies. It brings to mind what happened to South Sudan, when $4 billion went missing, and the president Salva Kiir wrote to 75 senior government employees (including current and former ministers), asking for the unaccounted money to be returned.

Keeping thieves and shady characters within government can never be a solution.

If Joyce Banda wanted to be taken seriously (by both her country’s citizenry and the international community), she would firstly have accepted help from donors to look at what happened and the scale. Minimally she would have either dismissed the culprits fair and square (LETTING THOSE WHO WEREN’T RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP THEIR JOBS) or she would have relieved the majority of the ministers from her cabinet and brought in fewer, new and hopefully more competent faces. This was an opportunity for her to find and bring in real talent and integrity, and root out the weeds. Not recycling the same old crowd.

Yet what’s happened is a disappointment. In case you forgot, these are the same people she told in Mangochi last week that she was disappointed with them? That she had lost faith in them? How then could they have miraculously been reformed (and her confidence in them restored), within a space of a week? What happened? Was she speaking to only the five who have gone, but hidden in the crowd? I hope I’m not missing something here??

In fact the question to ask was why didn’t even one of the ministers who remain resign and blow the whistle if any of them noticed the graft or something suspicious? If they didn’t notice the graft, then they couldn’t possibly be that good? Is it really true that out of the 27 who remain nobody knew what was going on? So, if no one noticed anything suspicious or weren’t willing to speak up, can they be trusted?

Madame president, you would be doing the country (and yourself) a big favour by appointing people of integrity, true servants of the state, not just friends and those who you think you owe something to. Others are already doubting your integrity.

“What is even more preposterous is the fact that the president has conveniently come to this wonderful revelation only when her relative was shot in a corrupt deal involving monies that were supposed to be delivered to her. If this president takes all of two years (18 years if you put together all her time in a senior government position) to notice that things are wrong, how can she be trusted to transform a country at all when a presidential term lasts only 5 years?”

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