Malawi swears in half of new cabinet

2014-06-19 19:24
Malawi's new president, Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika. (Amos Gumulira, AFP)

Malawi's new president, Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika. (Amos Gumulira, AFP)

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Blantyre - Malawi on Thursday swore in only half of its new cabinet after President Peter Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party won the elections nearly a month ago.

Mutharika had come under criticism for delays in appointing his cabinet, with legislators complaining parliamentary debates could not proceed without ministers available to answer questions.

Mutharika finally appointed nine ministers on Thursday. A tenth minister, former International Monetary Fund official Goodall Gondwe, had already been given the finance portfolio and sworn in earlier this month.

The delay in appointing ministers was linked to Mutharika's promise to trim the cabinet down to 20 from 32 members to save expenditure, which requires him to restructure it.

The presidency has not said when the rest of the cabinet will be announced. The new cabinet includes both new faces of technocrats and stalwarts from Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Old faces include Gondwe, George Chaponda as foreign minister, Jean Kalilani as health minister, Henry Mussa as labour minister and Kondwani Nankhumwa as information and tourism minister.

Newcomers include Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu, Agriculture Minister Allan Chiyembekeza, Transport and Public Works Minister Francis Kasaila, Education and Science Minister Emmanuel Fabiano and Youth and Sports Minister Grace Obama Chiumia.

Mutharika, brother to the late 2004-12 president Bingu wa Mutharika, won a chaotic general election on 20 May, ousting his predecessor Joyce Banda.

Mutharika faces the task of restoring relations with donors who slashed aid making up 40% of Malawi's budget following a massive corruption scandal.

The south-east African country, about 80% of whose population are subsistence farmers, is among the poorest in the world.

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