Vice-President Saulos Chilima has dismissed assertions that he is using the Catholic Church to garner support for the 2019 Tripartite Elections, saying he has been a Catholic since birth and a politician only from 2014.
In his address during the launch of the Chancellor College (Chanco) Catholic Alumni in Lilongwe on Saturday, the Vice-President challenged his critics to stop castigating him for serving the church, stressing that he does not serve the church to earn votes, but rather to thank God for the gift of life.
Said Chilima: “It is wrong to suggest that I attend and serve the church for votes. No! I am 43 years old [the VP was born on February 12 1973] now and I have been a Catholic for 43 years. Of these years, I have been Vice-President for only three years. So, why should I use the church to get votes?”
He said he believes in giving respect and taking instruction from the church leadership irrespective of his position in society.
Said Chilima: “Actually, it is at church where I learnt that leadership is not a position. A promotion never made anyone a leader. Leadership is a fiduciary calling.”
His sentiments come amid speculation that he is using the Catholic Church to gain sympathy and support from the church against the perceived strained working relationship with his boss, President Peter Mutharika.
Chilima, who joined mainstream politics in February 2014 when he quit his high-paying job as Airtel Malawi managing director to become then Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Peter Mutharika’s running mate and eventually Vice-President following their victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, also challenged members of the association to use their fellowship as a tool to serve the church.
Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese Tarcizius Ziyaye asked the alumni and other Catholic professionals to put God first in their lives.
He said: “The church needs your expertise, skills and advice for it to serve mankind well. The association should, therefore, help you deepen your faith in Jesus Christ.”
The association’s chairperson Francis Matita assured the archbishop of the group’s commitment to offering its varied professional skills towards the growth of the archdiocese the church at large.
Chilima studied at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, where he obtained a bachelor of social science majoring in economics and later a master’s degree in economics. In August 2015, Chilima obtained a doctor of philosophy in knowledge management from the University of Bolton in the United Kingdom. n