The framers of the Malawi Constitution thought it wise to put in the statutes that every presidential aspirant should have a running mate who finally becomes the vice-president if they win the election. It is assumed running mates know each other well. As they campaign, they put their resources together to win. The running mate knows very well that once they win the election he/she will be the vice-president of the country.
As it happened in the past, the presidents had hidden agendas against their vice-presidents. What came out was estranged relationship between the presidents and their vice. The vice-presidents were simply abandoned. As time went by, it showed that the presidents wanted absolute power to enable them to undertake “quick rich schemes” through corruption, fraud and other means. With an active vice-president probably this would not have been possible. To build these corrupt empires, the vice-presidents were demeaned by being called names despite that most of them were men of high standing in society. For example, Saulos Chilima who deputised former president Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). DPP cadets would call him an airtime vendor, forgetting he was Airtel Malawi chief executive officer when they got him. Mutharika was short sighted. He should have used Chilima in improving the performance of loss making parastatals.
It was sad that despite the poor performance of the economy, skilled manpower such as Chilima were left idle. At the moment, Chilima is Chakwera’s vice and, so far, the story looks different. The two seem very close and united to the extent that Chilima is assigned to do important tasks. Among important jobs he has been given was the public sector reforms programme. Chilima received the responsibilities with enthusiasm and seems willing and ready to produce good results soon. He has visited most government and parastatal offices where he has left an indelible mark that he does not like late comers. For example, during his meetings public officers who came late were locked out. If he continues working like this, Malawi economy will turn around soon.
During the just-ended Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) meeting, Chilima showed that he is Chakwera’s trusted right hand man. He was the one welcoming foreign heads of State and government with which he did with respect, pomp and dignity. Apart from this, he was running around ensure that everything was in order. He knew the President and Malawians were proud of the Sadc meetings. To say the truth, Chakwera and Chilima are a marvel to watch. Naturally, some people would wish them to separate for unknown reasons. Such people want to vindicate the past presidents who abused their vice-presidents. Maybe their interest too can be that a president should not have a vice. Unfortunately, this is backward thinking.
It is well known that former president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda did not have a vice-president. This caused a lot of friction among people. Fortunate for him his main agenda was to develop this country. He had no time to be corrupt or steal from government. For those who want to copy Dr Banda they must also copy his style of inclusive development. It is clear that some of our former presidents who abused vice-presidents did not do much to develop the country’s economy. This is why people might think they wanted absolute power to enrich themselves and so, they did. In Malawi, whoever is the President, must respect the Constitution for not making vice-presidents as figure heads. If the President and the Vice-President can work together, it will be easy to develop this country. Indeed, Chilima is the right hand man for Chakwera. This is the way it should be. a