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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LILONGWE649
2005-08-01 14:48:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT RESHUFFLES CABINET; SIDELINES

Tags:   EAID  ECON  KCOR  KDEM  PGOV  PREL  TBIO  MI 
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						UNCLAS LILONGWE 000649 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/S
STATE FOR AEASTHAM
STATE FOR INR/AA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2015
TAGS: EAID ECON KCOR KDEM PGOV PREL TBIO MI
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT RESHUFFLES CABINET; SIDELINES
VICE-PRESIDENT

REF: LILONGWE 579



1. (SBU) Summary: President Mutharika has reorganized his
Cabinet, removing the portfolio of Vice-President Chilumpha
and demoting the Minister of Information. The President
also fired the Minister of Mines and the Environment,
promoted the Minister of Home Affairs to Minister of
Agriculture, and created four new Deputy Minister
positions. The moves are a clear sign that the President
is trying to sideline his VP, while rewarding his
supporters with new positions. End Summary.



2. (SBU) The President took away the Ministry of Water
Development from the Vice President, combined it with the
portfolio of Irrigation and gave it to Gwanda Chakuamba,
former Minister of Agriculture. Chakuamba is the head of
the Republican Party, one of the main parties supporting the
President in Parliament. This seems to be both a move to
further sideline the VP, and to answer criticism that the
government has not done enough to develop sorely needed
agricultural irrigation.



3. (SBU) Ken Lipenga, the embattled Minister of
Information, has been demoted to Minister of Labor. Lipenga
had fallen out of Mutharika's inner circle, complaining to
Embassy officials that he was unaware of major decisions
made by the President until after the fact. He is being
replaced by Patricia Kaliati, former Deputy Minister of Local
Government and Rural Development. Kaliati is a particularly
perplexing choice, as she is a political novice with a weak
command of English and no previous experience working with
the media. The President appears to have selected her either
for her loyalty, or because he desires to take a more active
role in the
Ministry himself.



4. (SBU) Eunice Kazembe, the outgoing Minister of Mines and
Natural Resources, had been appointed Minister of Trade and
Private Sector Development at the outset of the Mutharika
administration. She was demoted to Mines in the last cabinet
shuffle. The reasons for her more or less continuous fall
from favor are not clear, but they may include her reputation
for corruption. As Ambassador to Taiwan during the Muluzi
administration, Kazembe directed a majority of Taiwanese
university scholarships to close relatives, including her
children. Reliable sources have reported that she has
vigorously solicited equity participation in privatizations
and other deals. In addition, she has failed to align herself
with the President's new party and is reputed to still have
close ties with Muluzi.



5. (SBU) Uladi Mussa, former Minister of Home Affairs, has
been promoted to Minister of Agriculture. This is a big step
up for Mussa, a Muslim who is known as a good politician, but
a questionable administrator. He has served in Parliament
since 1994, and previously served as Deputy Minister of
Agriculture and Minister of Natural Resources and
environmental Affairs. Though he has faced some challenges
as Minister of Home Affairs, he seems to be a rising star on
the Malawian political scene.



6. (SBU) Comment: All of those promoted into new positions
appear to have been selected mainly for their loyalty to the
President and his new party. As reported previously
(Reftel), trust is proving to be a critical issue for
Mutharika, who is still struggling with political enemies
from his old political party (some of whom are coy in their
opposition, a category that includes Vice President Cassim
Chilumpha). With no natural base of his own, he is groping
for support within Cabinet. As well, it is clear Mutharika
is trying to raise the government's level of effectiveness,
particularly in the politically sensitive areas of irrigation
and press relations. This is not li