A new cabinet in Malawi was sworn-in on Friday with President Lazarus Chakwera warning 31 of his newly hired ministers and their deputies against corruption, saying he would not spare anyone found abusing their positions.
Chakwera said at Bingu International Convention Centre during the swearing in of new ministers in what he called 'Transition Cabinet' that they should work hard and prove their doubters wrong, failing which, they will be replaced.
The President said it has been pointed out by critics that several of his Cabinet appointees have conflicts of interest.
"I would like to assure you all that I am fully aware of these interests, for I did a thorough background check on each candidate. Since my Cabinet appointees are accomplished individuals in their own right, it was inevitable that they would have conflicts of interest by virtue of those accomplishments; accomplishments which also form part of their qualification," said Chakwera.
The President said Ministers will sign a code of conduct and urged them to protect public resources and foster transparency and accountability.
He said the special code of conduct will keep his Cabinet members from using their public office for the advancement of those private interests.
Chakwera stressed the he wants a corrupt-free Malawi where public resources are put to good use.
"I want you to hear me and to hear me clearly: I have seen each of you leading others and working hard, doing so in the spirit of serving Malawians and building the Tonse philosophy when many odds were stacked against its success. It has pleased me to appoint you as Ministers and Deputy Ministers in my transitional Cabinet to lay the groundwork for a Tonse approach to managing government affairs.
" The ministries you have been assigned to are in a mess, characterized by wanton wastage of resources, greedy monopoly in the awarding of contracts, incompetence in the standard of work, and multiple systemic inefficiencies," the President said.
Chakwera urges the Minister to prove doubters wrong by being productive.
"You each have five months to produce results that will give Malawians confidence that change has come. At the end of that period, you will each give a report to Malawians publicly on your progress in each of the key performance indicators that I will give you.
"At the start of the New Year, I will shortlist those of you whose performance I find satisfactory and include you among those who will be publicly interviewed for a year-long appointment on my 2021 Cabinet," said Chakwera.
He pointed out that many Malawians are not as persuaded as he is that the ministers are the right people for the job.
"The onus is on you to prove them wrong and to reaffirm me in my confidence that you have what it takes to deliver the Tonse Transformation that Malawians have long cried, prayed, and fought for.
"Should you prove the sceptics right by being lazy, abusive, wasteful, arrogant, extravagant, divisive, and corrupt, I will not hesitate to have you replaced.
" Contrary to public opinion, I am not beholden to any of you, nor do I have any of you to appease, for I owe both my election and allegiance to God and the Malawian people. May God's Spirit rest upon you as you take your oath to serve them," said Chakwera.
President Chakwera, former head of the Malawi Assemblies of God, one of the largest Christian denominations in the country, has inspired hope that he will offer a new kind of leadership inspired by God and driven by the needs of Malawians.