Malawi vice president Saulos Chilima says he is not a “cry baby” to be whingeing about foreign trips from President Peter Mutharika as has been widely speculated.
He said news outlets and social media got it all wrong that he was not happy; assuring the nation there is no bad blood between him and his boss.
Chilima said this on Tuesday after an abrupt cancellation of a scheduled news conference which was to be held by Information minister Jappie Mhango and Foreign Affairs minister George Chaponda.
Some of news outlets have been peddling rumours that the relationship of the President and his vice is not cordial.
Malawi News report last Saturday also fuelled the speculation with their story claiming Mutharika is sidelining Chilima and giving more preference to Chaponda – widely believed to be aspiring to succeed the President.
“There is no rift, there is no fight between me and the President,” said Chilima, carefully picking his words.
Malawi News reported assertions by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and academic Mustapha Hussein saying President Mutharika is side-lining Chilima simply because he sometimes delegates cabinet ministers to attend foreign events.
However, the Vice President pointed out that the issue has been taken out of context by those whose motives are nursed by rumour- mongering and falsehood.
“This allegation is unfortunate and premised on hearsay intended to spread mischief and spark disaffection in the cordial relationship that I and the President enjoy,” he said.
Chilima said he came into office, President Mutharika assigned him seven foreign trips therefore it was bizarre to think the same President is sidelining him on foreign trips.
He said in this cost cutting measure era, it would be senseless to delegate him for foreign international conferences because as vice president, he also takes with him a considerable contingent, including his security detail.
The vice president said he could not be assigned to the much talked India trip because he had already been assigned another trip to the US almost the same time.
“So logistically it was impossible to travel to India. We are also mindful of cost implications because I travel with a contingent. He can delegate me yes but in terms of savings, we can save only a little,” he said.
Chaponda led a dozen other cabinet ministers for the India Africa summit which was held in India. Mutharika cancelled the India trip as a cost cutting measure.
Since coming into office some 18 months ago Chilima has made close to eight foreign trips upon delegation from the President.
Only months into office, the Vice president travelled to Kenya, Singapore, South Africa and Botswana with his entourage. President Mutharika delegated him to meet key government officials in respective destinations in a bid to have first hand feel of how public sector reforms are being carried out.
Chilima also travelled to Pretoria, South Africa on a second trip when President Mutharika delegated him to attend the SADC extraordinary meeting aimed at resolving the political crisis in Lesotho. Outside public sector reforms and the SADC delegation, the Vice President also travelled to Israel when President Mutharika sent him to meet irrigation experts and government officials. This trip was in line with the President’s dream of turning Malawi into an exporting nation through agro-manufacturing and massive irrigation among other thematic areas.
Just some months, President Mutharika delegated several assignments to Chilima when he went to United States where went to attend the launch of Leadership Council of Compact2025 under the International Food Research Institute (IFRI).
In October, Chilima was delegated to travel to Zambia on that country’s Independence Day celebrations and Tanzania where he represented Malawi at the inauguration of John Magufuli as Tanzania new President.
The only trip that the Vice President travelled not under delegation of President Mutharika is when he went to United Kingdom to defend his doctoral thesis and later to be conferred upon a doctorate academic status
Chilima strongly dismissed the allegations of a gulf with the President.
He said in the wake of austerity measures which the President is championing, “it is not economically prudent to expect a vice president to be always delegated in the event that the President is not travelling.”
The vice president is appealing to the general public and other stakeholders to avoid sensationalising issues at the expense of the nation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :