Vice-President Saulos Chilima is in the United Kingdom (UK) where he is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a London Political Summit and Awards ceremony, among other engagements.
The Vice-President, who is also leading the newly formed United Transformation Movement (UTM) that is promoting his ticket in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, arrived in the UK yesterday, according to press officer in the Office of the Vice-President, Pilirani Phiri, who did not specify the other engagements he would undertake.
Details of the keynote address suggest that Chilima will speak at an awards ceremony where Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former prime minister Raila Odinga will be decorated with the Black History Month and African Peace Award following their peace accord handshake which ended political hostility after Kenya’s 2017 election.
The website www.eventbrite.co.uk says the summit would focus on narrow and broad concepts of political-will to act and the public’s will-power to react in the context of an individual leader or collective leadership actions in critical political decision-making in governance, among other issues.
The event is scheduled to take place at the British House of Parliament on October 18 and 19.
In a statement dated October 13 2018 signed by special assistant to the Vice-President on economic affairs Milward Tobias, Chilima is scheduled to return home on October 21 after spending his holiday and performing “private” engagements.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Tobias justified the privacy of the trip, saying the Vice-President is on holiday, but still in a position to deliver his keynote speech at the invitation of the organisers of the London event.
He said: “The private element comes in because he is on holiday so some institutions have taken advantage of his presence to speak to them.”
The Vice-President broke ranks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on June 6 this year and declared he will challenge President Peter Mutharika in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Chilima—whom President Peter Mutharika picked as running mate in January 2014 where he served as Airtel Malawi managing director—had a visibly rosy relationship with the establishment until his declaration and the President subsequently stripped him of his Cabinet portfolio of Minister Responsible for Disaster Management Affairs and in-charge of National Public Events.
Since his declaration, Chilima has been sidelined from official engagements, including seeing off and welcoming the President, stirring debate among legal scholars on the position and status of the Vice-President.
Section 80 (3) of the Constitution provides that the Vice-President shall be elected concurrently with the President and the name of a candidate for the Vice-President shall appear on the same ballot paper as that of the presidential candidate who nominated him/her. n