Embattled former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Development, George Chaponda, has embarked on a campaign whose chief aim is to distance some Cabinet Minister from President Peter Mutharika so that they fall out, Nyasa Times understands.
Chaponda, who is also ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for the southern region, was fired from cabinet following his involvement in a dubious maize procurement deal from Zambia—popularly known as maize-gate.
His corruption case is still in court awaiting judgement.
Sources that have talked to Nyasa Times say Chaponda is jealous of fellow DPP members who are enjoying favours from President Mutharika.
Our source said Chaponda has apparently created a list of people, most in the cabinet, that are said to be pro-vice president Saulos Chilima towards a presidential run under the DPP banner at the expense of incumbent Peter Mutharika.
“Among others, the guy [Chaponda] wants [Joseph] Mwanamvekha, [Henry] Mussa and [Grace Obama] Chiumia to fall,” said a DPP source.
Added oanothr source: “It’s all jealous. He knows the President does not like him like than before because of how he has dented the image of DPP with the maize-gate scam.”
And, according to the fake list which has been circulating on social media and we have seen, the aforementioned three are purported to be Treasurer General, Vice President (Eastern Region) and Vice President (Northern Region) respectively.
“The list has linked several names which would as much as possible portray huge betrayal on the President hence that Mutharika takes such action as to fire them,” said our source.
Apparently, it looks like Chaponda is not alone in the scheme to smear some ministers as a leaked audio clip between Cabinet minister Kondwani Nankhumwa and the party’s secretary general (SG) Gressielder Jeffrey, which centred on how the alleged Chilima camp was gaining more support, questions loyalty of some gurus, including Cabinet ministers.
It questioned the allegiance of Cabinet ministers Henry Mussa and Joseph Mwanamvekha, among other issues.
But Mussa has bitterly rubbished assertions that he could not be trusted and questioning his loyalty to the party and its leadership.
“I have listened to the conversation and what the SG is saying about me is utter nonsense and childish. I don’t know what she is talking about. My loyalty is to President Mutharika and the party, no one else.
“My conscious is clear. It is very unfortunate that a senior member like her would stoop so low to discuss something about me which is not true. This is nonsense and childish and I demand an apology from her,” said Mussa in quotes reported in the local press.
Mussa said it would have been something else if it were President Peter Mutharika questioning his loyalty.
“How can she talk about me like that? Where was she when I was sleeping on the floor with President Mutharika in a cell in Lilongwe?” he queried.
Mwanamvekha refused to comment, saying the President could not be swayed by gossips.
Jeffrey is in the audio heard saying she was also suspicious of Mwanamvekha, claiming as Agriculture minister, he never took instructions on how to handle fertiliser subsidy coupons to loot and help party members.
“Bwana [boss], you remember I have been telling you? I told you this man [Chilima] has everything in place. We just cheat the bwana (President) about the State intelligence; it is a useless intelligence and that’s why this government has been infiltrated. Chilima knows everything and he is doing his own things.
“When issues about Cabinet reshuffle are discussed, proposals that we will put Jeffrey there, you find that those issues are out. There is no secret. Bwana that mwana [child] is gone, he is not turning back,” Jeffrey is heard complaining in the clip.
Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) executive director Kizito Tenthani said the developments were a sign of lack of open debate within political parties.
“What would be a cause for worry is the tendency for some parties to silence other quarters from expressing their views on how their political parties should be led. One would want to believe that political parties in the democratic setting should offer that space where dissenting views are heard, even the views that are challenging the leadership of political parties,” saud Tenthani in quotes reported by The Nation.
“What we are seeing borders on the weaknesses of our political parties. Our political parties need to reign over personal or individual interests. Political parties should look beyond the limited interests. They should look at the greater good for the party and the country at large.”
Tenthani, whose organisation works to build the capacity of political parties, advised the parties to respect their respective constitutions and accept dissenting views. He warned that creating “father figures” who cannot be questioned is counterproductive.
Malawi will hold tripartite elections in May next year to elect the President and Vice-President, 193 members of Parliament and 462 ward councillors.
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