Bingu, Callista ‘bribe’ clergy, chiefs at Sanjika

President Bingu wa Mutharika and First Lady Callista Mutharika last week accomplished a ‘bribing’ tour of Blantyre by hosting at Sanjika Palace religious and traditional leaders, giving them significant amounts of money to win their sympathy amid increasing national social, political and economic woes.

“They invited people who matter in town and the village to what he calls ‘consultation’ meetings. Last week, the First Lady hired two buses to ferry Blantyre Synod Reverends’ wives and other women officials from other few selected churches to Sanjika Palace. They ate and each one of them pocketed MK4,000,” confided a State House aide, who asked not to be identified.

Media reports on Saturday confirmed that indeed, the First Lady invited Blantyre Synod women drawn from 18 presbyteries and that besides making the K4,000 handouts to each individual, she also donated K1 million as a revolving fund.


Synod’s General Secretary Reverend Alex Maulana confirmed  the women visited Sanjika Palace on Thursday, last week, “on invitation”. However, he is reported to have said the visit should not be perceived “as if the synod were selling itself to government”.

On Thursday, President Mutharika invited to Sanjika Palace at least 30 members of the clergy, under the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) and the Episcopal Council of Malawi (ECM).

“Besides dining and wining, each one of them received an envelope containing K20,000,” revealed the State House aide.

These meetings were preceded by another where President Mutharika met traditional chiefs at Sanjika Palace where he sought their support in refusing to devalue the local currency, the Kwacha, as advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other economic experts to mitigate the prevailing economic problems compounded by the scarcity of foreign exchange.

At that meeting, Mutharika argued that devaluing the Kwacha would have far-reaching repercussions on the poor who will have to contend with rising cost of living due to rising costs of basic commodities.

He informed the traditional leaders that from March, 2012 capital Hill would take over control of the monitory policy from the IMF.

According to the aide, the general agenda of the ‘consultative’ meetings was threefold; firstly to inform them that IMF and the Western donors are on his neck to devalue the kwacha. The idea was that in case the IMF and the donors succeeded, then the President would not be responsible for the aftermath effects such as commodity prices hiking.

“Secondly, he defended the zero-deficit budget that it is a workable strategy and time has now come for Malawi to attain economic independence. Lastly, he told them that civil society backed by the international community want to remove him from power illegally and this should not happen.

“You can see that he is now seeking grassroots’ support just as he did with the vendors during the mass demonstrations ‘scare’. The President is seemingly not in control of the country’s economic and political affairs. He is desperately hunting for sympathy amid problems that are of his own making due to irreparable arrogance and self-importance,” observed the aide.

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