Malawi Gazette has learnt that Vice President, Saulos Chilima, was at the centre of a scheme with his UTM party senior officials in the Northern Region to embarrass his boss, State President Lazarus Chakwera, when the two visited the region recently for Martyrs’ Day commemoration.
Sources within government rank and file say that initially Chilima was not supposed to go to Mzuzu but was invited by President Chakwera as a sign of goodwill.
Sadly, the Veep found a chance to canvass some political capital by throwing a political circus aimed at humiliating his boss.
“He deliberately gave excuses to travel a day after the State President. He informed the Office of President and Cabinet protocol office that he had some meetings so would only travel to Mzuzu on the eve of the Martyrs’ Day commemoration in Nkhatabay,” said our source.
All along Chilima had started mobilizing his UTM comrades led by party spokesperson, Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo, to cause a political show.
Malawi Congress Party sources in the North say UTM refused to be part of the program welcoming the Head of State on March 1.
“They spit it in our faces that they were not interested because Mwenifumbo had received instructions from Chilima okaying their stay away. We could not push them far because we are different political parties though we never expected them to attack our leadership,” lamented one MCP official.
The day Chilima was getting to Mzuzu, UTM cadres tore apart MCP cloth that had been mounted the previous day, and replaced it with their own. They had earlier agreed to take down even the Republic flag but backtracked after a lone reasonable voice amongst them reminded the group that they could get arrested for such seditious actions.
Tumpale Mwenifumbo was seen organizing party cadres at Mzuzu Shoprite car park where he distributed shamboks and panga knives in case the situation escalated into violence.
Mwenifumbo, renowned for political violence since the early 90s, had also prepared his boys to cause violent scenes at the Marty’s Day commemoration ceremony. When police and military got wind of the plan they intensified their security preparedness around Nkhatabay Boma thereby hindering any suspect individuals around the venue.
Upon arrival in Mzuzu, Chilima held overnight meetings with his party officials at Mzuzu Hotel. Some officials have confided in Malawi Gazette that the Vice President dressed down his party officials for dropping the guard in defending the Northern Region which he says is UTM base.
During the meetings Chilima expressed his displeasure over recent developments where several UTM councilors in Mzuzu City have defected to Malawi Congress Party. What worsened the situation is that people had received over K10 million from the Vice President to force the defectors back to UTM but to no avail.
Chilima’s worry is that his party, which has only four elected and less than 10 defecting members of Parliament, is fast losing popularity across the country and cannot afford to let go areas it claimed as strongholds two years ago.
UTM won many councilors in Mzuzu City at the 2019 tripartite elections but their influence has waned following recent midterm elections that ushered in MCP’s Desire Nyirenda as new mayor. He was deputized by Tony Mwenitete, formerly of UTM but has just defected to MCP.