A source told the press Mutharika, who is also trying to reshape his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), will announce his new cabinet in the near future. It declined to give dates.
Analysts say the president, who once was a darling of the people but lost track in his second take of five years of leadership, is struggling to win back public support particularly ahead of the forthcoming 2014 elections where he is fielding his young brother, Foreign Affairs minister Peter Mutharika, and where a number of challenges have emerged in the form of an intra-DPP party pressure group, Hope Alliance (HA) of Blantyre legislator Moses Kunkuyu, and opposition political parties such as that for the state Vice President Joyce Banda.
There is also mounting political competition from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by son to former president’s son, Atupele Nuluzi. Youthful Muluzi’s supporters were ambushed by DPP zealots on its way to Thyolo to woo support. Thyolo is one of the districts in Mutharika’s homeland and therefore stronghold. Banda herself has challenged Mutharika on leadership and supported civil societies calls fro mass peaceful demonstrations of July 19 and 20 in 2011 where 20 people were shot by police firing live ammunition art unarmed protestors.
Members of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) were called in to quell the situation after police were overwhelmed. MDF also came in to disperse vendors who fought running battles against the police on 4th January after city officials sought to relocate them to designated trade areas, forcing UDF chairperson and former vice president Cassim Chilumpha, who is a lawyer, to condemn the practice.
“The MDF is better placed by the constitution to secure Malawi borders and external interests. It is the police’s duty to handle internal security matters. This is abuse of the army in a constitutional establishment where a rightful government establishment is charged with that responsibility,” he charged, adding Malawi has become a police state.
There has been several restful issues including school pupils being fired teargas by the Police Mobile Service (PMS) after being overwhelmed during a school protest and another scenario with two days where vendors and other thugs attacked and undressed women wearing short skirts and trousers in the capital city, Lilongwe, spreading to the commercial city of Blantyre and the evergreen northern city of Mzuzu.
They claimed Mutharika had said they can trade anywhere as vendors and that he had called women wearing trousers ‘dolls’, inciting them to enforce moral values.
Mutharika has since moved former Party Governor Binton Kutsaira to head the state’s spy machinery, the Central Intelligence Service (CIS) and fired southern region governor Noel Masangwi.
As we went to press current ministers were crossing fingers wondering if they will survive the reshuffle.