It was always predictable that in a battle of wills between a puppet and his puppet master, the puppet master would come out victorious.

And so it has proved at the State House, where after threatening to abandon the puppet with a resignation letter, the prime minister has awarded himself with a promotion from Personal Assistant to Minister Without Portfolio.

Although the appointment has been made in secret in fear of criticism and verbal reprisals from the Malawian public, I have been reliably informed that the appointment is real and it is official, making him a de facto Prime Minister indeed. The taxpayer will of course pay the new Minister’s salary, and the secrecy of the appointment is designed to pull the wool over the taxpayers’ eyes and make us believe that the 20 member lean cabinet idea is still in play.

It is as Minister without Portfolio that the former Personal Assistant travelled to Egypt, determined to assert his new position as Minister without Portfolio and the first among his fellow ministerial equals.

My sources here at capital hill indicate that the reaction among other cabinet members has been one of either anger or resignation. Some have resigned themselves to the inevitability of it all, coming to the full realisation that I have always pointed out: we have a pawn for a leader, a pawn that cannot make a move without the control of the man who pulls the strings, a pawn that has no balls to accept a resignation and demonstrate once and for all that he is capable of doing things by himself.

Other cabinet ministers, however, are angry at the development, and have vowed that they will ask difficult questions and demand answers at the next cabinet meeting should the newly and secretly appointed Minister Without Portfolio be in attendance. What they are forgetting, of course, is that for a puppet master, it is not particularly necessary for him to attend the cabinet meetings, as the attendance of the puppet means that he knows everything that will be discussed, and that indeed it will be his agenda that will be adhered to.

As I enjoy another local dish here at the Good Food Shop in area 10, I am distressed and confounded at how as Malawians we can be so passive as to allow a leadership to be running in this manner. I am even more astonished at how some can find a voice with which to sing praises to the puppet.

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