MALAWI President Lazarus Chakwera on Monday sacked his entire cabinet over graft concerns, vowing to “confront all forms of lawless conduct by public officials”.
“I have dissolved my entire cabinet effective immediately, and all the functions of cabinet revert to my office until I announce a reconfigured cabinet in two days,” Chakwera said in a national address.
He added that the reconfigured cabinet will exclude Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month in a bribery case.
“This is to allow him to answer the corruption charges he is facing in court and clear his name there,” Chakwera said.
Chakwera said his government will not accept amnesty on public officials who have been implicated in corrupt activities.
“I do not support the offer of amnesty to those who defrauded Government and the Malawian people. Although the idea of an amnesty was a campaign promise enshrined in our manifesto as a way of speedily recovering Government’s stolen assets, it cannot be effected without a clear legislative framework that allows it to be implemented lawfully and without appearing soft on corruption.”
The stunning decision follows meetings last week with two influential groups, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi and the Public Affairs Committee, which comprises church groups that act as a government watchdog.
Both groups expressed concern over the president’s indecisiveness in fighting corruption.
ECM, an assembly of Malawi’s Catholic bishops, said authorities must ensure that no one is “pressurised, intimidated or influenced” in the pursuit for justice.
“Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected,” the bishops said in a statement.
Chakwera won 2020 elections by campaigning on promises to fight corruption in the poor southern African country.
The land minister’s arrest was the second corruption scandal to erupt in less than a month.
Earlier in December, a corruption probe saw Malawi’s former finance minister and an ex-central bank governor arrested on allegations they manipulated accounts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund.
The latest development comes after a recording in which Malawi’s director general of the anti-corruption bureau, Martha Chizuma was leaked.
According to Chakwera, in the audio, she “she discusses her belief that the justice system in Malawi will not do what is right in handling corruption cases unless it is forced.”
Chizuma’s leaked audio also exposes intrinsic details on a chain of a corruption network involving the country’s civil society, the church and judiciary.