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Don’t contradict me—JB tells ministers

President Joyce Banda on Monday advised newly sworn in cabinet ministers and deputies to watch out what they say in public so that they do not contradict her.

Speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, she said she expected the new appointees to respect the presidency in their dealings on government matters.

“Please don’t make a mistake of losing your boss’ confidence and don’t make the mistake of contradicting me in public,” said Banda matter-of-factly, but without hinting on an experience that may have led to her publicly offering this piece of advice.

She did not elaborate on what would happen to cabinet members that would go against this.

In her speech after the swearing in ceremony, Banda made particular reference to Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, saying she was happy at his humility to accept to serve in her administration.

Gondwe has replaced United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, the first minister to resign from the PP government.

“I know that you may not need a job and we also know the credits attached to your name in the previous government. Our Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) lies in your ministry and I hope that you and your officers will do more than what the previous minister did,” she said.

Later in an interview, Gondwe said he did not expect difficulty in moving forward with his work as government had already laid down the recovery plan which he comes to implement.

“My responsibility is to ensure that what has been agreed is now implemented. I am coming at a time when we need results. We have to, somehow, reduce inflation and prices need to go down,” said Gondwe adding that recovery of the economy is a responsibility of all citizens.

Reacting to Banda’s advice to ministers that she should not be contradicted in public, political commentator Mustafa Hussein said in an interview that her utterances smack of intolerance to criticism because in a democratic political dispensation like Malawi, it is expected that the president would expect criticism from all corners.

“On the other hand the president wants her government to be speaking with one voice, but I should want to believe that at cabinet level the cabinet members can argue and counter argue and at the end agree on one thing which would later be communicated to the public if need be,” he said.

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