Progressive Party (DPP) calls for him to resign for getting involved in a different political grouping, Vice-President Saulos Chilima boldly said yesterday he will stay put.
The Vice-President, promoted as SKC, initials for his full name Saulos Klaus Chilima, said in a preamble to his address to a United Transformation Movement (UTM) Southern Region launch rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre that Malawians voted him to his position alongside President Peter Mutharika.
He was reacting to calls by five Cabinet ministers—Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development), Nicholas Dausi (Information and Communications Technology), Bright Msaka (Education, Science and Technology), Samuel Tembenu (Justice and Constitutional Affairs) and Henry Mussa (Industry, Trade and Tourism)—that he should resign with immediate effect.
In a strongly-worded statement signed by Dausi, the DPP administration rebuked Chilima for, among other things, criticising a government he is part of, failing to report alleged corruption cases and making vote rigging allegations.
But yesterday, while stating that he is not in the habit of reacting to what others say, Chilima said the Cabinet ministers calling for his resignation should understand that he was not handpicked, but appeared on the presidential ballot alongside Mutharika in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
He said: “In 2014, the President [Mutharika] and myself contested in the presidential race. There were some who contested as members of Parliament [MPs] and some as ward councillors. No one contested to be a minister…
“The qualification to be a minister is based on ‘pleasing’ the appointing authority to do so. I was not appointed… In 2014 we campaigned and I was voted into this office alongside the President.”
Reacting to DPP’s Chilima resignation calls, Henry Chingaipe, a political analyst, in an interview with our sister newspaper Weekend Nation on Saturday questioned the justification; saying the office is protected by the Constitution.
In his address yesterday , Chilima said he is not at the same level with those who are calling for resignation.
Amid cheers from the crowd, Chilima also tackled corruption, challenging responsible authorities to investigate officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and State House, whose names he did not mention, on their role in the awarding of a contract in the procurement of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) generators to the fourth bidder instead of the successful bidder.
He said a brave female chief executive officer (Evelyn Mwapasa) who refused to take instructions from the officials ended up being transferred to a “small” company.
The Veep also challenged investigating authorities to probe Blantyre Water Board’s Mulanje-Blantyre Water Project which aims to tap water from Mulanje Mountain to supply water to Chiradzulu and areas surrounding Blantyre.
Said Chilima: “There are board members and Ministry of Finance officials who wanted the contractor to be changed there. From there, I will give them another list of institutions where they need to investigate.”
The UTM leader also hinted that three million litres of fuel meant for generators was recently stolen at Escom. He justified his exposing of corruption in public, saying his efforts to advise government on the same has fallen on deaf ears due to what he termed “too much arrogance”.
Chilima further emphasises he would create one million jobs in his first year of office, but did not go into much detail, saying “mayeso sitikuwuzirani”(We will keep our strategy under wraps for now).
Speaking at the ceremony, Michael Usi of the Wodya Zake Alibe Mlandu grouping said the reason Malawi was not developing was greed that has engulfed its leaders.
He said: “When you have been elected president, you are there to serve the country but the problem is that instead of being president of the people, most of these serve their small parties.”
On her part, interim UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati said the movement will not be moved and expressed optimism that they will make it as the country’s next government.
Among some of the notable faces at the launch were businessperson-cum-politician Newton Kambala, musician and legislator Lucius Banda, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, Blantyre City East legislator Noel Masangwi, former first ladies Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri and Callista Mutharika, former minister of Defence Paul Chibingu, Mulanje South legislator Bon Kalindo, Blantyre City South MP Allan Ngumuya and former MP Felix Njawala.
Two weeks ago, a grouping calling itself Forum for National Development (FND) also called for Chilima’s resignation as Vice-President for ditching DPP alongside some former DPP national governing council (NGC) members.
In 2005, former president and founder of DPP Bingu wa Mutharika also voluntarily dumped the United Democratic Front (UDF) which sponsored his presidential ticket in the 2004 General Elections and formed DPP. However, he did not resign as Head of State. His vice-president then, Cassim Chilumpha, remained UDF.
Immediate past president Joyce Banda also formed People’s Party (PP) in 2011 after being expelled from DPP, but continued to serve as vice-president.