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Malawi names new finance minister

16 October 2013, 07:58

Blantyre - Malawi's President Joyce Banda on Tuesday named a former World Bank economist as the new finance minister, five days after dissolving her cabinet amid a massive corruption scandal.

Maxwell Mkwezalamba, who has been a commissioner for economic affairs at the African Union in Addis Ababa for the past nine years, replaces Ken Lipenga.

Amid mounting reports that some of her cabinet ministers were lining their pockets from state coffers in the deeply impoverished country, Banda last Thursday suspended all the ministers.

The president also sacked four ministers from the old cabinet, including justice and labour, according to an announcement made on state television.

Political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the removal of Lipenga was "expected because he was at the centre of fraud and cooked revenue figures" at the treasury.

It was not immediately clear why the president dropped Ralph Kasambara, a well-known lawyer and politician, who was the justice minister.

She however retained most of the faces from the old cabinet, increasing its number to 26 from 25 for the new line-up.

Banda reshuffled a few names, taking the information ministry from Moses Kunkuyu and giving it to veteran politician Brown Mpinganjira, who was irrigation minister.

Ten government employees have been arrested over the past three weeks on suspicion of swindling more than €2.2m from state coffers in a scandal dubbed the Capital Hill cash-gate scandal, named after the seat of government.

Malawi relies on foreign aid to bankroll around 40% of its national budget.

The European Union, one of the key donors has called on Banda to rapidly deal with the rampant corruption if it is to restore donor confidence.



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