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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LILONGWE596
2004-06-30 11:38:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

MUNYENYEMBE ELECTED SPEAKER, MUTHARIKA OPENS

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  PINR  KCOR  ECON  EFIN  MI 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000596 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
DEPT FOR INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2014
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR KCOR ECON EFIN MI
SUBJECT: MUNYENYEMBE ELECTED SPEAKER, MUTHARIKA OPENS
PARLIAMENT

REF: A. LILONGWE 559


B. LILONGWE 457

C. LILONGWE 451

Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Peter W. Lord, reasons 1.5 (b/d).

SUMMARY
-------
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000596

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
DEPT FOR INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2014
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR KCOR ECON EFIN MI
SUBJECT: MUNYENYEMBE ELECTED SPEAKER, MUTHARIKA OPENS
PARLIAMENT

REF: A. LILONGWE 559


B. LILONGWE 457

C. LILONGWE 451

Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Peter W. Lord, reasons 1.5 (b/d).

SUMMARY
--------------

1. (SBU) With a narrow margin of victory, United Democratic
Front (UDF) MP Rodwell Munyenyembe was elected Speaker of the
National Assembly on June 28. The House also elected First
and Second Deputies, both of whom are pro-UDF. President
Bingu wa Mutharika, in his first address to Parliament on
June 29, sounded his now familiar refrain of moving the
nation "from poverty to prosperity." Echoing themes made at
his inaugural address, Mutharika explained how each ministry
will play its part in his administration's goal of reforming
the public, private, agricultural, and civil service sectors.
Well received by most Malawians, Mutharika's policy
statements have invoked a "wait-and-see" attitude from
political commentators and the donor community. (Bio
information on Munyenyembe begins in paragraph 6.) END
SUMMARY.

MUNYENYEMBE ELECTED SPEAKER
--------------

2. (SBU) In a tangible demonstration of the ruling United
Democratic Front's (UDF) slim working majority in Parliament,
UDF MP Rodwell Munyenyembe was elected Speaker of the
National Assembly on June 28, defeating Malawi Congress Party
(MCP) MP Louis Chimango 99 to 83 (reftel A). Republican
Party (RP) MP Esther Chilenje was elected First Deputy
Speaker, and independent MP Jones Chingola was elected Second
Deputy Speaker. All three support the ruling UDF's
"government of national unity." (NOTE: During the leadership
elections in the 193-member house, two parliamentarians were
absent, and eight seats were vacant pending by-elections. In
the vote for the Speaker, one ballot was spoiled and declared
"null and void." END NOTE.)

MUTHARIKA'S NOW FAMILIAR REFRAIN
--------------

3. (SBU) On June 29 President Bingu wa Mutharika began his
first address to Parliament by carefully listing campa
ign
promises he has kept, including reduction of the size of the
cabinet, his administration's focus on economic reform, and
transfer of the presidency and ministries to Lilongwe (from
Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre). In addition to
reminding the nation that he is keeping his campaign
promises, Mutharika reprised familiar themes from his
inaugural address (reftel C) and his first meeting with the
donor heads-of-mission (reftel B). Highlighting his
administration's self-dubbed tag-line "from poverty to
prosperity," Mutharika focused his remarks on how the
ministries will fulfill his goal of reforming the public,
private, agricultural, and civil service sectors.


4. (SBU) The only comment to elicit applause from the
assembled government officials was a reiteration of his
"zero-tolerance policy" against corruption.

COMMENT
--------------

5. (C) Mutharika has gotten good mileage out of his current
message, and it is generally well received by Malawians.
Political commentators and the donor community, who remember
similar promises by newly-elected President Bakili Muluzi in
1994, have adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude toward
Mutharika's policies. Mutharika's reforms come with a price,
and his administration will have to balance implementation of
those reforms with a need for strict fiscal discipline. END
COMMENT.

--------------
BIO INFORMATION: Rodwell Munyenyembe
--------------

6. (C) Originally an educator, Munyenyembe has had a long
political career, serving in several ministerial positions
both before and after Malawi's transition to multi-party
democracy. Once among the most active, intelligent, and
hardworking ministers, Munyenyembe's influence and drive have
diminished significantly with age. Munyenyembe re-gained his
parliamentary constituency in the 2004 elections and was
elected Speaker of the National Assembly on June 28, 2004.
He is largely perceived to be a loyalist of former President
(and current chair of the ruling United Democratic Front)
Bakili Muluzi, which is likely the reason the party selected
him for the Speakership.

Munyenyembe in Multiparty Democracy
--------------

7. (C) Munyenyembe was a founding member of the Alliance for
Democracy (AFORD) opposition party and was elected to
Parliament in Malawi's first multiparty elections in 1994.
He was unanimously elected Speaker when Parliament met for
the first time in late June 1994. He has since distanced
himself from AFORD and ran as an independent candidate in
June 1999 and was defeated.


8. (C) After losing his parliamentary constituency,
then-President Muluzi appointed him Minister of State for
Presidential Affairs. He was later appointed Minister of
Defense, where he remained through the end of Muluzi's second
and final term as President. He was not very active as
Minister of Defense and had little engagement with the Malawi
Defense Force.


9. (SBU) At the UDF convention in August 2003, Munyenyembe,
the convention's organizer, was defeated in his bid for the
Second Vice Presidency of the party. In the 2004
parliamentary elections, he contested and re-won his Chitipia
parliamentary constituency.

Under the Banda Regime
--------------

10. (C) Munyenyembe headed several ministries in Banda's
government from 1963 to 1977 and represented Malawi at the UN
General Assembly in 1975 and at the OAU in 1976. His
political banishment occurred in 1977 when he was first
"transferred" from his position as Malawi Congress Party
(MCP) Secretary General and Administrative Secretary to serve
as Minister of Education, and then later he was odd-man-out
in a cabinet reshuffle which, according to some, was staged
to facilitate his exit from Government. Republican Party
president Gwanda Chakuamba and Malawi Congress Party
president John Tembo were allegedly involved in Munyenyembe's
ouster.

Personal Data
--------------

11. (C) A northerner from Chitipa District, Munyenyembe was
born in 1936. He studied at Livingstonia and then at Domasi
Teacher Training College, before beginning his career as a
primary school teacher. He earned a certificate for teaching
the deaf from Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK in
1966 and a technical certificate in audiometrics from the
University of London in 1967. Munyenyembe retains his
interest in education for the deaf. He is a devout Roman
Catholic, is married, and has 12 children.
RASPOLIC