Africa & World

Uproar in Malawi after Chakwera appoints own daughter Ambassador to Belgium

THE Tonse Alliance administration is once again embroiled in nepotism after President Lazarus Chakwera appointed his daughter Violet as the country’s diplomat in Brussels, Belgium.

Violet Chakwera, the First Couple’s second-born daughter, is among several appointees undergoing training in readiness for postings, and the development comes high on the heels of a recent appointment of Margaret Kamoto, mother-in-law to Vice-President Saulos Chilima as Malawi High Commissioner to Zambia.

The appointments appear to be part of a growing pattern for Chakwera, who as the Leader of Oposition in Parliament railed against the practice.

His son-in-law Sean Kampondeni is director of communications at State House. He also appointed into his Cabinet, Roy Kachale, son to former president Joyce Banda, who is one of his Tonse Alliance leaders, siblings Ken Kandodo and Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who are descendants of the country’s first president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, among others.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chiarperson Gift Trapence yesterday condemned the appointment of the President’s daughter as another example of the Tonse Alliance administration’s growing nepotism.

“It’s the same issue we have been raising, including in our one-year assessment of the Tonse Alliance administration. This is nepotism. We want this government to live to expectations of Malawians, they are using the same DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] template of discrimination and nepotism,” he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Lucky Sikwese could not confirm the appointment, asking Weekend Nation for proper details of the said Chakwera’s daughter to verify if, indeed, she was among the appointees.

“I might have a Violet but the combination of the names you are giving me is not something I have seen,” he said. Efforts to speak to him later proved elusive.

Presidential press secretary Brian Banda yesterday asked for more time to comment on the matter, saying: “I will come back to you.”

The Vice-President’s spokesperson Pilirani Phiri refused to comment on the matter, referring the questions to State House.

Previously, the DPP administration also stuffed the country’s diplomatic missions with family relations of the president and senior Cabinet ministers. Among others, former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s daughter Duwa was a diplomat at the Malawi consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa; his uncle Charles Namondwe was Malawi ambassador to China.

Agrina Mussa, wife to former Cabinet minister Henry Mussa, was High Commissioner to Kenya. Former State House chief of staff Edward Sawerengera’s wife was deputy ambassador to the US.

The development is a walk-away from the high virtues President Chakwera championed as the country’s opposition leader, including railing against DPP’s nepotistic tendencies during a speech he made in Parliament on May 9 2018.

On the occasion and several others, Chakwera, pledged to end the culture of nepotism and, specifically, said the Foreign Service will be a preserve for career diplomats: “Surely this cannot go on,” adding: “Surely this must come to an end”.

Chakwera’s daughter, though, wouldn’t be ranked as a career foreign service personnel or expert in international relations.

Previously employed at Kenyan Airways and Malawian Airlines, her Linked-in profile states she is an “experienced Reservations Sales Agent with a demonstrated history of working in the airlines/aviation industry” and has a degree in tourism and travel services.

Her skill sets has “skilled in Microsoft Excel, customer service, strategic planning, project planning, travel consulting, itineraries and Microsoft Office. Strong operations professional with a bachelor’s degree focused in tourism and travel services management from Amity Education Group.”

The profile does not mention any experience or qualifications for diplomatic work or international relations.

The appointment forms another pattern of appeasement with four members of HRDC, the once militant civil society organisation that was at the heart of the opposition endorsed anti-government protests during the DPP administration, appointed into various diplomatic positions. – Malawi Nation ■

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