PS, Advisors’ contracts end

…league of advisor’s term end

…we can’t continue like this-Bishop.

Contracts for the League of advisors and retired principal secretaries and directors in government agencies are coming to an end as most of them were appointed between 29 June and 30th September 2020.

Government contracts run for three years, except for a few which are four years and five years long. Diplomatic appointments also follow the same pattern. This means dozens of appointments made in 2020 will expire by the end of this year.

With one of the worst governance performances since independence prompting outspoken Karonga Diocese Bishop Martin Mtumbuka recently to exclaim “We can’t continue like this!” eyes now turn to President Lazarus Chakwera if he will use the opportunity to clean up his team 25 months before the next elections.

“He has a league of advisors who obviously do not know what they are doing or simply they are football teams devouring on our taxes. The output has been very low, the performance makes Chakwera look very bad. If he wants the truth, he needs fresh minds in every department,” suggested a political analyst from Chancellor College we asked to analyse the performance of the government.

29 June 2020 appointments

The day after the President was sworn in, he appointed retired Zangazanga Chikhosi as Chief Secretary which he later renamed Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Jane Banda as his deputy, his closest aide Prince Kapondamgaga as Chief of Staff, and Attorney General Dr. Chikosa Sulungwe.

He also made two cabinet appointments- Richard Chimwendo Banda as Homeland Security Minister and Vice President Saulos Chilima as Economic Planning Minister.

Chilima has since been fired from the role while Chimwendo Banda has been shifted at every cabinet reshuffle, moving him first to the Ministry of Youth before the current Ministry of Local Government.

Zangazanga Chikhosi was fired on 1 June 2022 and replaced with Colleen Zamba who within a year has had a court ruling against her usurpation of presidential powers and has picked administrative fights with several high-profile women including Hellen Buluma, formerly NOCMA and Martha Chizuma, Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Dr Chikosa Silungwe, a constitutional lawyer could not survive a political government and was replaced with an Attorney General who government agencies now are running away from his legal advice, afraid of future consequences if the MCP loses power.

Only Dr. Jane Banda and Kapondamgaga remain from this lot, with the latter just returning from a year-long suspension and his contract renewal is being processed.

July 2020 appointments

Zanganga Chikhosi started two years long by recalling retired civil servants including Blessings Chilabade sent to Human Resources, Bernard Sande who started at the Ministry of Lands and is now at Foreign Affairs, and Samson Maweru who was recalled from retirement to head Agriculture.

Maweru outlived Zangazanga Chikhosi by five months as his contract was terminated after the scandalous K750 million attempt to buy fertilizer at a butchery in London. His Minister Lobin Lowe was fired as well.

Sande and Chilabade’s contracts mean have expired as well, including other Principal Secretaries that were in service across the public agencies, which is 15 in total that were appointed this time.

Other notable appointments in the month included Director General of Malawi Revenue Authority John Bizwick and his lieutenants Agness Katsonga Phiri and Henry Ngutwa, Reserve Bank Governor Dr. Wilson Banda, and National Intelligence Services Director General Dokani Ngwira and his team.

Apart from Ngwira and NIS officials, MRA and Reserve Bank have longer terms of four and five years respectively.

League of advisors

The President decided to have a parallel cabinet in the name of “presidential advisors” whose roles are as ambiguous as some of their titles.

The State House and OPC has not responded to our request for the number of advisers and assistants despite submitting access to information request by hand in May this year.

There are unconfirmed reports that the contingent of advisers and assistants, which could be as high as 20, includes the President’s family and some of the disgraced ministers appointed secretly.

Some of the well-known contracts on the economic side include Dr Samson Lembani, Chief Advisor to the President on Public Policy and Governance, Chancellor Kaferapanjira as Chief Economic Advisor, and Chief Advisor on Rural Transformation and Development Adamson Mkandawire.

Chakwera with one of his advisors

Between the three, with their economic advice, the country’s economy continues to sink deeper, raising questions if the public is getting their money’s worth from their services.

Other advisers include celebrated musician Lucius Banda who advises Chakwera on Youth and Arts, Maxwell Thyolera, former MP for Lilongwe Northeast who is an advisor on political and parliamentary affairs and Ephraim Chibvunde who is Peoples Party vice president is another political advisor.

Lucius Banda who advises Chakwera on Youth and Arts

The president is further advised by Dorothy Chirambo on women’s matters while Reverend Brian Kamwendo is an advisor on religious affairs and is deputised by Sheikh Hashim Abbas.

Former health activist Martha Kwataine advises the president on non-governmental organisations and another fiery nurse advocate Dorothy Ngoma now sits in government as an advisor on safe motherhood.

Among recent appointments, Dr. Elias Chakwera, the president’s brother, is an advisor on education. 

Prior to other appointments, SPC Zamba and Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu were also in the “advisors cabinet.”

Other advisors and assistants that were disgraced by scandals include Christopher Chaima Banda and Pastor Thom whose public scandals forced the president to fire them. Mkandawire (Rural transformation) has however survived a K378 million loan scandal which he obtained from a businessman currently answering corruption charges.

As indicated, we could not add all assistants and advisors as the State House and OPC are hiding the information.

Not being told the truth-Chakwera

The President shocked Malawians recently when he pleaded with officials to tell him the truth when things are not going on well.

Malawi’s economy is on its knees, with frequent fuel shortages, rising staple food and goods prices, and chronic shortages of foreign exchange and essential drugs which the government seem not to have any short-term strategy to deal with.

“If he wants the truth and he wants to save his legacy, he should do some serious soul searching before giving some of his advisors and key ministries officials contracts. He admitted in public that he is not getting the whole picture, the question now is, will he let these people go who have let him down?” asked another analyst.

The Investigator Magazine has not received any response from OPC for two months on the performance and list of the presidents’ assistants and advisors despite our request of 25th May 2023.