Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has said Malawi cannot afford life ministers. Swearing in new ministers, some of them returnees into his cabinet, he said nobody should think ministerial posts are for life. He also defended his inclusion of his wife, First Lady, Callista Mutharika, on the cabinet list.
"As President, I am in the saddle where I have the opportunity to look at the whole Malawi and the world to correct things. You need to understand that the posts are not your personal possessions," he said at Sanjika Palace in the commercial city of Blantyre.
"Nobody has the right to be life minister. Positions change and nobody should complain of being fired when I move people around," he said in the televised statement.
He was reacting to the Malawi Law Society (MLS) and civil society outcry after he fired four prominent ministers in last week's mini cabinet reshuffle.
Five ministers and two deputies took their oaths.
Mutharika, also the African Union (AU) chairperson, added he was aware some of the cabinet ministers were attending meetings that betrayed their oath, and warned the new seven cabinet members to desist from the same.
"Don't think I am not aware of the meetings some of you attend (behind my back)," he warned.
About his wife, Mutharika said she was not a cabinet member, but that she held a high position in the country alongside the chief justice.
"She should have been here taking an oath if she were appointed a minister. What I did is usual. What was usual with the repressive regime under the Malawi Congress Party?" he challenged, reminding the MLS to take a refresher course in law or to read the law before... making irresponsible statements.
"If the so-called experts read the Constitution," he schooled the MLS, "not all positions are defined. As President I have the powers to create positions when necessary."
The MLS earlier argued the First Lady's appointment into cabinet was unconstitutional and unsual. The former cabinet minister who headed tourism and wildlife ministry, has been given what the President calls a "Coordinator and Director of the Maternal, Infant and Child Health (Safe Motherhood) in my office".
"She is above any appointment, including a ministerial position. Little knowledge is dangerous," he said.
One of the fired ministers, former Finance and later Local Government and Rural Development minister, Goodall Gondwe, said he felt useless.
"I am disappointed. All I do is wake up in the morning and sit. All I can wait for is to attend Parliament as a Member of Parliament. Know that I am also automatically fired from the position of the Leader of the House," he said.
Other ministers fired include Khumbo Kachali from the Public Works and Infrastructure ministry, Professor Thomas Chirambo from Health, and Patricia Kaliati from the Ministry of Women, Child and Community Development