Robert Abela faces backlash in the Second District after Joe Mizzi’s removal from Cabinet

‘I will continue sticking my neck out for the Second District,’ Joe Mizzi says, pledging to contest next general election

Labour MP Joe Mizzi
Labour MP Joe Mizzi

Joe Mizzi will continue to “stick his neck out” for people in the Second District after being axed from Cabinet, the veteran Labour MP said.

He also pledged to contest the next general election on the district, where he has been elected without fail since 1987.

Mizzi is one of three former members of the executive, who did not make it in Robert Abela’s Cabinet.

Abela’s decision means that he now has to deal with backlash from PL supporters in the Second District lamenting that the stronghold has no minister.

“I have always done my work well and stuck my neck out for the country and the Second District. I did so when I was minister and will continue doing so now, and God willing, I will continue doing so in the future by contesting the general election on the Cottonera district,” Mizzi told MaltaToday.

Mizzi would not be drawn into commenting on Abela’s choices for Cabinet but insisted that his participation in politics has never been for personal gain. “I have always contested because I believe in the principles of the party. I never contested for personal gain,” Mizzi said.

Mizzi’s removal came as a surprise to many in the district with people close to the veteran MP voicing their disapproval in public.

On Facebook, Mizzi’s former communications coordinator, Charmaine Craus, said her former boss “did not deserve this”. She gave Mizzi a glowing tribute, describing how he dedicated time and energy to serve the country.

Mizzi's former communications coordinator said her former boss did not deserve being axed from Cabinet
Mizzi's former communications coordinator said her former boss did not deserve being axed from Cabinet
Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana applauded Mizzi
Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana applauded Mizzi

In a comment beneath the post, Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana thanked Mizzi for his “work, friendship and decency (irġulija)”.

Constituents posting on social media described Mizzi as an honest man. “He is a gentleman and did not deserve this,” a constituent told MaltaToday.

Mizzi has never been embroiled in controversy and is considered to be a loyal hard worker.

His side-lining from Cabinet leaves the Second District without a minister born and bred in the stronghold. The only representation in Cabinet is Bormla MP Chris Agius, who has been retained as parliamentary secretary.

Some of Mizzi’s constituents have suggested that Abela may have paved the way for Bormla mayor Alison Zerafa Civelli, his sister-in-law, to make headway in the district if she decides to contest the next general election.

Joe Mizzi's constituents voiced their disapproval at Abela's decision not have a minister from the Second District
Joe Mizzi's constituents voiced their disapproval at Abela's decision not have a minister from the Second District

The manner in which Abela dealt with the Second District contrasts with promotions he gave to all MPs from the Sixth District – his home district. Roderick Galdes and Silvio Schembri were promoted and given ministerial portfolios, while Rosianne Cutajar was appointed parliamentary secretary.

Party sources said Abela may have miscalculated the impact of his choice on a district level but they also admitted that unlike the Sixth District, the Second District has seen little fresh blood on a national level.

Mizzi was first elected to Parliament in 1987 and has been elected from the Second District ever since. He first served as minister between 1996 and 1998. In 2013, he was appointed transport minister, overseeing the transition of the bus system from the failed Arriva to Autobuses de Leon, and ensuring that the Kappara junction project got off the table and finalised.

After the 2017 election Mizzi was given the energy portfolio. He was conspicuous by his absence recently as the country faced frequent power cuts in the wake of fatal damage to the interconnector.

Mizzi was one of three former Cabinet members who were not re-appointed in Abela’s ministerial shake-up. The others are deputy leader Chris Cardona and former parliamentary secretary Anthony Agius Decelis.

READ ALSO: Chris Cardona insists it was his decision not to be minister in Robert Abela's Cabinet

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