Malawi President Peter Mutharika, his press secretary Fredrick Ndala and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) outspoken spokesperson Jessie Kabwila on Tuesday gave different explanations on how the opposition party legislator found herself in the delegation to the just-ended Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Summit, arriving back in the country on the President’s chartered jet.
While Mutharika suggested that this was a chance development, Ndala described Kabwila as the President’s guest and the MCP publicist justified the invitation on the basis of her position in Parliament.
Kabwila has been a vocal critic of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and has not relented on the MCP’s position that the ruling party rigged the May 20 polls in favour of the Mutharika candidacy ahead of MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera who came second at the ballot.
She has gone as far as alleging that DPP was behind the torching of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) warehouse containing ballot materials scheduled for a vote recount in Lilongwe City South East.
But Kabwila surprised people at Kamuzu International Airport on Tuesday when she alighted from the chartered plane dressed in a white caftan dress immediately after the President, the First Lady and his entourage.
She did not follow the customary line of people who came to welcome Mutharika but went around the security personnel to board one of the vehicles on the presidential convoy alongside former MP for Kasungu North East Grenner Gambatula Nkhata.
Addressing a press briefing held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe hours after his arrival, Mutharika said the MCP spokesperson and NGO-GCN chairperson Emma Kaliya were already in Zimbabwe on another business and he invited her (Kabwila) to be part of the delegation.
“When returning, it was discovered that there was some space in the plane. She was invited to board and she accepted,” said Mutharika.
Speaking earlier, Ndala played down the presence of Kabwila on the president’s entourage, saying Mutharika invited Kabwila as a guest and he was at liberty to include any citizen when it pleased him.
“He included her as part of that privilege which a President has. Besides, Kabwila is current chairperson of parliamentary Women Caucus and an MP for Salima North West,” he said in an interview.
Kabwila said she was not the only person invited by the President but her invitation was in her capacity as chairperson of the Women’s Caucus.
But she said she would not water down on the DPP and her stance that the party stole the May 20 vote would remain.
“That plane carried Malawians; it had nothing to do with Jessie the MCP spokesperson,” she said.