Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Malawi President Banda Dissolves Cabinet

Malawi's President Joyce Banda has dissolved her cabinet, says Moses Kunkuyu, a former minister of information among those dismissed.

She made the move after returning from a trip abroad which included a speech at the United Nations general assembly. Kunkuyu says there was no reason given for her decision.

"Usually," said Kunkuyu, "there are no reasons given because constitutionally, the power to hire and fire cabinet ministers is vested in the president. So, when the office of the president makes that announcement, it suffices, and there are no questions asked."

Kunkuyu says President Banda returned to Malawi Wednesday, held a press conference and then a cabinet meeting. On Thursday evening, her office released a statement announcing the dissolution of the cabinet.

The move follows the arrest of nearly a dozen government officials on suspicion of graft.

Some political observers say the cabinet sacking may be linked to the investigation into malfeasance.

Kunkuyu rejected the idea.

"It is the desire of the president to see to it that everyone that is involved in corruption should be brought to book. So I do not know how you can marriage that to the dissolution of cabinet," said Kunkuyu. "I just want to assure you that the president is a staunch believer of the fight against corruption, and she has made it very clear that she would not spare anyone in the fight."

Some opposition parties say the end of the cabinet is a calculated political stunt to garner votes for President Banda in next year's general election. Kunkuyu disagrees.

It is not yet clear when President Banda will announce a new cabinet since her office did not give any specific date for a formation of a government. Kunkuyu says he is not sure when the new cabinet will be announced.

"I wouldn't know ... .," said Kunkuyu. "But suffice it to say that we've been in this kind of situation before, where a cabinet gets dissolved [and] a president takes his or her time to appoint a new [one]."

Kunkuyu called on Malawians to be patient and law abiding as the country's leader considers replacements.

"We know that there is a possibility [of having] no cabinet while we wait for a new [one]. During that time, the office of the president is functional, so all issues that have to do with various ministries would obviously go [directly] to the attention of the office of the president," said Kunkuyu.

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