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Malawi’s new government sworn-in after last week’s sacking of entire cabinet

Malawi’s new government was sworn in on Sunday after President Lazarus Chakwera’s surprise sacking of seven ministers last week over graft concerns.

“Do not accept a gift in exchange for using your office to give someone preferential treatment in the administration of a public service,” Chakwera said at the swearing-in ceremony. “That is corruption.”

Civic and religious groups had pressured the president to rein in his cabinet after a number of his ministers were embroiled in corruption scandals. In December, then minister of lands Kezzie Msukwa was arrested on allegations that he had received a bribe from a wealthy businessman to give him land.

Chakwera, elected in 2020 on a campaign to fight corruption in the poor southern African country, sacked his entire 33-member cabinet last Monday. But most were reappointed two days later, and the new lineup includes only two new faces.

Chakwera named prominent businessman and politician Mark Katsonga Phiri to the trade ministry, while ruling party loyalist Sam Kawale takes over as lands minister, replacing Msukwa.

“If you do not follow the law, the law will follow you,” Chakwera said Sunday. “And if you think that I will use my office to save you from facing a law you have broken, then you are gravely mistaken.”

In early December, Malawi police arrested a former finance minister and an ex-central bank chief for fabricating figures in a bid to impress the International Monetary Fund. Joseph Mwanamveka and Reserve Bank of Malawi former governor Dalitso Kabambe were accused of cooking the books to secure a loan from the Washington-based development and crisis lender.