President Peter Mutharika has said he is concerned that his second in command, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, made “wild corrupt accusations” against his administration but fell short of reporting the suspected corrupt officials to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The President, speaking yesterday, through presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said, in an interview, that the second powerful man in the country should have led by example by reporting the suspected corrupt government officials to the ACB and providing the bureau with information, if he had any.
Chilima, when he broke his silence on Wednesday since some people urged him to challenge Mutharika’s presidential candidacy at the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) convention, told Malawians, through a news conference, that the country is riddled with corruption, nepotism and cronyism, but fell short of naming and shaming those responsible.
But the presidential spokesperson said Mutharika learnt with shock and disbelief the accusations Chilima raised, saying, especially for a fact that as a man who is second in command, he failed to do what is expected of a responsible citizen—to report such issues to the ACB.
“The President is equally concerned that the number two powerful person in Malawi, still serving in the same administration, would simply stop at making such wild corruption claims. The President’s expectation was that he would report such people to ACB and provide them with information.
“The President also expected that he would tell Malawians who these corrupt officials are,” Kalilani said.
But Chilima’s spokesperson, Pilirani Phiri, said the Vice-President addressed that question during the Lilongwe press briefing on why he could not report to the ACB.
During the Lilongwe news conference Chilima said in future, when he will have information, he would report to the ACB.
The Vice-President also suggested it was common knowledge that there is rampart corruption in the DPP administration and that it was anyone’s responsibility to fight corruption. He also said that President Mutharika himself admitted, not only once, that there is corruption. He also said that the media has widely reported about corruption in Malawi.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Blantyre Thomas Msusa on Friday asked political leaders to watch their tongues ahead of the May 2019 tripartite elections, making a direct reference to Mutharika’s catchphrase “Ndidzakuny-enyanyenyani’.
Mutharika, before Vice-President Chilima announced on Wednesday that he would not contest at the governing DPP convention or challenge the incumbent for presidential candidacy, repeatedly warned the Chilima camp that he would crush them at the convention.
Msusa, who is head of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) during the 85th graduation ceremony for Form 4 students at Providence Girls Secondary School in Mulanje, also asked Malawians to choose wisely in the forthcoming elections and vote for leaders who are calm, patient and development-conscious.
He urged political leaders to desist from using threatening words.
“We don’t want to hear words like ndikunyenyanyenyani, [I will crush you at the convention],” Msusa said.
He also urged political leaders to desist from tribalism and regionalism.
But the presidential spokesperson, in the interview, said the President has not been using the words literally.
“The statement the President made about ‘ndizakunyenyanyenyani’ is just a figure of speech. Politicians do that all the time. Figures of speech are never meant to be understood literally. This is common knowledge.
“One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that a politician’s statements on a political podium challenging his competitors to face him at an elective convention and saying that he would crush them does not have anything to do with violence,” Kalilani said.
He said to pretend that one sees a call for violence in such a straight figure of speech was stretching pretence too far.
The situation between the President and his Vice-President was getting tense, but on Wednesday, Chilima broke the silence, announcing that he will leave the DPP, contrary to expectations of those who were urging him to challenge Mutharika, including the Chilima Movement led by some DPP senior officials.