Thursday, April 26 2012, Malawi’s new President Mrs Joyce Banda released a new cabinet. As most quarters of the society had previously appealed, the cabinet is really inclusive, regardless of political, regional, tribal or religious barriers.
Out of the 32 member cabinet, the ministerial positions have fairly been distributed among the country’s three major regions. The South which enjoys Malawi’s largest population has about 15 ministers including the president herself, 10 in the centre and the rest for the north including the vice President.
Would it be partisan for me to say that this corresponds PP’s principles of (Chitukuko, Umodzi ndi Kusakondera), meaning; Development, Unity and Fairness?
The cabinet has taken on board members of almost all major political parties namely MCP, UDF, DPP, Aford and MPP which has since disbanded to join the ruling People’s Party (PP). Her Excellency the president seems to have heeded the calls for a Government of National Unity (GNU).
Of interest to Muslims in Malawi is their representation in the new cabinet. During the previous regime, Muslims have cried foul in as far as their representation in cabinet was concerned.
Muslims’s demands for consideration of government positions are just simple and reasonable: Fair rather than equal, and that’s all. Could that be too much for the second largest religion in the country?
After the DPP was formed by late president Bingu Wa Mutharika, Muslims had their hopes in the names of then vice president Dr Cassim Chilumpha, Yussuf Mwawa, Uladi Mussa and Jaffali Mussa as black Muslims who they thought could understand well the needs of Muslims in Malawi.
However, months and years down the line; all these Muslim ministers were expelled from either government or the DPP for various reasons.
For whatever reasons, a cross section of Muslims did not like the likes of Zomba’s Yunus Mussa and Chikwawa’s Sidik Mohammad Mia who remained in Bingu’s cabinet till his sudden demise on that fateful day, 5 April 2012.
Muslims could not have the slightest feel of being represented by the two. Was it a mere coincidence that the only remaining Muslims in the previous government were of coloured skin who most Malawian Muslims perceive as not being part of them?
Whatever one feels or thinks, these two brothers are Muslims, and according to Islam, no one has the right to say that someone is not a Muslim until he/she says it him/herself, period.
Now back to the new cabinet, Sidik Muhammad Mia has survived, and new other notable Muslims include former vice president Dr Cassim Chilumpha, defunct MPP president Uladi Mussa, UDF presidential hopeful Atupele Muluzi, promising politician, lawmaker and staunch Muslim, Ibrahim Matola and another lawmaker from Mangochi, Ralph Jooma. These are the notable ones most of us know.
Most of these Muslim figures are close to Muslims and even the mother body, Muslim Association of Malawi. Some of them have been closely working with Muslims in their political advancement and we hope that they are going to represent Muslims as expected.
What Muslims want from them is not handouts in terms of money or material items.
It is the interests of Islam and Muslims in governance, human rights, economic and social development as well as total freedom of Association in all spheres or sectors of the society. Muslims want to be free from insults and psychological torture, Muslims want to be free from political victimization, just like other religions and denominations, Malawian Muslims want to be free to do what they want for the betterment of their religion without the fear of claims to Islamize the country.
It is the hope of Muslims in the country that their brothers, who have been prerogatively considered for ministerial positions by the head of state, will not close their lives from their brethren. We would like to see a good and brotherly bond between them and the Muslim Association of Malawi and other Islamic organisations alike.
Remember, it is Allah (SWT) Who raises whom He Wills and He does so in order that their brethren might find solace.