, BLANTYRE, Aug 10 – Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika on Monday fired four key ministers in his first cabinet reshuffle since his victory in last year\’s presidential election, a government official said.
Mutharika "exercised his powers conferred upon him by the constitution" to fire local government minister Goodall Gondwe, a former finance minister and ex-International Monetary Fund director, said Bright Msaka, secretary to the government.
Other casualties were the ministers of health Moses Chirambo, of gender, child and community development Patricia Kaliati, and of transport Khumbo Kachali.
The current African Union chair appointed his wife Callista, a former tourism minister, to head the portfolio safe motherhood in the presidency. The pair married in April.
Mutharika also beefed up his powers. He is now commander in chief of the 7,000 strong police force as well as the army.
He also now oversees statutory corporations, national food marketer Admarc and the national food reserve agency, as well retaining oversight of the 120,000 strong civil service.
In the past, Mutharika, who ends his second term in 2014, held agriculture and education portfolios.
Mutharika\’s brother Peter, who is widely tipped to succeed the president, was shifted to education from justice.
The new appointments are effective Monday and the new ministers and deputies will be sworn in on Wednesday.