A leaked audio clip, purpotedly between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general Grazider Jefrey wa Jeffrey and Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa has gone viral in social media, in which among other things the minister tells the party secretary that ‘Field Marshal’ Ben Phiri went to see legislator Noel Masangwi to promise him the President would appoint him a minister so he could stop being critical.
Masangwi is among the legislators who are backing the proposal by former First Lady Callista Mutharika that DPP should have Vice President Saulos Chilima as its torch bearer in 2019 elections instead of the incumbent President .
“So Ben Phiri went to see Masangwi. He told Masangwi, ‘The President has sent me to you. He says he will appoint you to his cabinet – both you and Mrs Kaliati.’ And Masangwi told Ben off and said, ‘Let him dare to appoint us – we will humiliate him by declining the appointment. Right the next day we would hold a press conference to decline the appointment. We know the tactic – appoint us now to pacify us, then spit us out when it is convenient for the President,” Nankhumwa is heard saying in the audio clip.
But Jeffrey had doubts, saying: “In all probability the President did not send him on such a mission at all. Suppose the President has appointed Masangwi or Kaliati to his cabinet, how does he get to trust them, really? Wouldn’t they be peddling top secret information from the government to the other camp? There is no way the President could have confidence in them. He cannot work with them – and would be in perpetual fear. One becomes less constrained when supremely confident that this person is on my side. But when I’m tainted – say, I was in the other camp – obviously you cannot have full confidence in me.”
In the audio clip, Jefrey, said Mutharika should fire two senior cabinet ministers because they belong to vice president Saulos Chilima camp. The two cabinet ministers named in the clip are agriculture minister Joseph Mwanamvekha and trade minister Henry Mussa.
“Politically, Chilima is a child, he cannot unseat the professor at party polls. However, he gets courage from people like Masangwi, Mwanamvekha and Henry Mussa. These should be fired from their cabinet positions,” said Jefrey.
According to Jeffrey, Minister Mwanamvekha’s ‘sin’ is refusing to be part of the looting crusade.
“About Mwanamvekha’s treachery I have never had any doubt and here is why: the Ministry of Agriculture, key as it is, we tried to tell him to let the party have opportunities to steal he would not allow us, no matter how much we insisted he refused, the only demographic he knows to please is his constituency – some of these things, boss, give me high blood pressure. Even [cabinet minister Henry Mussa] I question his loyalty,” Jeffrey said.
She feared the two ministers support for the veep would weaken the DPP power base, the south.
Both Jefrey and Nankhumwa refused to comment on the audio clip when called.
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