Government Chief Whip Ephraim Mganda Chiume last week summoned some members of the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament (Pac) who are loyal to ruling People's Party (PP) and lambasted them for rejecting President Joyce Banda's recent appointees.
The members confided in The Daily Times that their conviction remains that the confirmation of appointees should depend on their qualifications and relevance and not merely based on political discretion.
Chiume, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, yesterday confirmed summoning the members, arguing that as government, their expectation is that their representatives in the committee would support the president's appointments.
"As government, we have positions on different issues. We take the positions before an issue is discussed, for example at parliamentary committee level.
"After the committee met, I had an audience with our members to find out what had transpired. In fact such meetings are not strange," Chiume said.
He said he usually meets his members of parliamentary committees and that Pac MPs had briefed him that they had sought clarification on the appointments, "and had not rejected the names".
But a Pac member who spoke to The Daily Times immediately after the meeting on Wednesday last week said they "were dressed down for what had transpired in the day. Chiume looked not amused."
On that Wednesday, Pac rejected the appointment of Assistant Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Victor Banda as Deputy Director of the body.
They also demanded clarification from Secretary to the President Bright Msaka on why the government had proposed changes in the composition and leadership of Health Service Commission.
"Furthermore, you may wish to be informed that Mrs. Betty Pwetekani has replaced Mrs. Lilian Deborah Ng'oma as Chairperson. Mrs. Lilian Debora Ng'oma will now be a Commissioner," reads part of an official communication from Msaka dated July 12, 2012 addressed to the Clerk of Parliament.
However , the committee declined Banda's appointment of Betty Pwetekani as new member and chairperson of the committee, Reverend Daniel Gunya and a Rose Namarika as members of the committee, arguing that the existing commission is only five months old in office.
The government is proposing that the three replaceWinston Banda, Felesia Chawani and Gibson Masache.
"We did not understand certain issues and so we have written the office of the Chief Secretary for clarifications.
As far as I can remember, by Friday we had not had a response," Rumphi North MP Tasokwa Msiska confirmed to The Daily Times last week.
During the Pac meeting, the committee is said to have confirmed Jane Kambalame as Malawi High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, replacing Benson Tembo who now heads Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
Pac has 22 members drawn from the government side comprising former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MPs who defected to PP and United Democratic Front members.
The opposition in the committee includes Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and DPP MPs who remained in the party following the sudden death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.