Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda is under fire from the UN diplomatic community for “deliberately exaggerating” to a newspaper reporter that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon personally phoned him to meet at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Sunday.
The UN Chief landed in Malawi to refuel his plane and never stepped out of his plane but managed to meet the Agriculture Minister after he pressed the local UN agencies to schedule a meeting.
A source within the UN system said it was impossible and out of protocol for the UN chief to take his phone and call a Minister who is not even Foreign Affairs Minister.
“The staff for Mr. Ki-moon informed the UN family in Malawi that he would stop over at KIA and it was then that the Malawi government was informed with the Minister of Agriculture contacting the local UN offices for a meeting,” said the source.
The sources said after being told that the UN Chief will just wait for the refueling and leave, Chaponda insisted and finally a brief meeting was arranged where the minister walked to the plane.
“So it doesn’t hold water that the UN Chief can take his phone and call a Minister of his choice. It doesn’t work like that diplomatically,” said the source.
This perhaps put to rest media queries as to why the UN chief called the Agriculture minister instead of Foreign Affairs Francis Kasaila if there was any possibility for the UN Chief to call Ministers in Malawi.
However, Chaponda told a local newspaper that it was the UN Chief that sought audience with him and not the other way round.
Chaponda said the two among others discussed about self exiled former President Joyce Banda and the looming hunger crisis.
Ironically, the hunger crisis issue is a portfolio that is under Vice President Saulos Chilima whose office of Disaster Management has had its response plan launched last week by President Peter Mutharika.
A few months ago, Chaponda openly told a local radio that he aspires to succeed President Mutharika and that even when he worked for the UN his dream was to become UN Secretary General.
He is leader of government in parliament and ruling DPP vice president.
During his stop-over on Sunday, Ban was on his was to an International Aids Conference in Durban, South Africa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :