Malawi Congress Party (MCP) wants Vice-President Saulos Chilima to quit as chairperson of the Public Service Reforms Commission over the conduct of his personal assistant Moses Kuchingale in Mchinji during the November 1 by-elections.
Kuchingale sported Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) regalia as voting took place in the Mchinji West Constituency by-election.
He reportedly visited a number of polling centres, including Mzura Full Primary School, Mchinji Community Day Secondary School, Mchinji Secondary School and Kamwendo Trading Centre where he allegedly posed as a MEC official.
MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka yesterday said the actions of the VP’s personal aide “have highly compromised the integrity of his [Chilima] office more so when you consider that the VP was the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] chairperson of these elections”.
He said: “In developed politics, he would not have been asked to resign. He would have resigned on his own to preserve the integrity of the second highest office in the land.”
Mkaka said it would be unfortunate for Chilima to continue spearheading the reforms when he is failing to reform a section of his own office.
He also said MCP expects MEC to take action against Kuchingale and other DPP officials who were allegedly involved in malpractices prior to the election day.
He said besides the election day incident, MCP officials confiscated car keys from DPP officials who were distributing rice to prospective voters on the eve of the elections.
But DPP publicity secretary Francis Kasaila laughed off the calls, describing them as baseless and a ploy by MCP to “jump the gun”.
He said: “If there was an incident, those issues are supposed to be lodged with MEC so that it can investigate. Let us wait until MEC investigates to get the truth on what really happened because we, too, were not there.”
Kasaila also rubbished assertions that DPP was planning to rig the election, saying a by-election is too insignificant for the party to worry about.
“DPP has no reason to rig a by-election. If we managed to win presidential election from the opposition in 2014, why should we rig an election that has no impact? What change could a by-election bring to our party?” he said.
Ironically, despite Kasaila saying the by-elections were insignificant, DPP invested heavily with Chilima making several campaign trips in the constituency and President Peter Mutharika wrapping it up later.
Kuchingale’s conduct riled MCP enthusiasts, who suspected his move was aimed at rigging the elections.
MCP legislator Richard Chimwendo-Banda and the VP’s aide was at some point engaged in a scuffle over the issue.
They reported him to law enforcers, whilst at the same time lodging a complaint to the electoral body and the office of the District Commissioner (DC).
MCP director of elections Maxwell Thyolera said it could be difficult for people to “differentiate DPP officials from MEC officials technically giving them (DPP officials) access to some areas, which they were not supposed to”.
Mchinji Police officer-in-charge (OC) Maximus Thomson Bakali confirmed they did not arrest Kuchingale in spite of receiving a complaint against him.
Bakali simply said they were investigating the matter.
Whereas MCP said it lodged an official complaint to MEC over these matters, the commission’s acting spokesperson Richard Mveriwa said they are yet to receive.
But Mveriwa told The Nation on Wednesday that the commission is “investigating the matter as to how the VP’s personal assistant managed to get hold of the MEC attire and his intention in doing whatever he did”.n