Perhaps the grumpy faces that some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gurus wore when President Peter Mutharika announced little known Everton Chimulirenji as his running mate were justified.
The DPP gurus’ fears of a misfiring running mate were confirmed on Sunday afternoon when Chimulirenji failed to impress during his maiden rally as DPP presidential running mate held on Sunday at Ntcheu Old Bus Depot just over a week after his appointment as Mutharika’s running mate.
Just like a week ago at the presentation of nomination papers at Comesa Hall in Blantyre, Cabinet ministers Henry Mussa, Samuel Tembenu, Bright Msaka, all favourites to be picked by Mutharika as running mate sat there in Ntcheu mouth agape and arms akimbo.
Chimulirenji will be one of the hardest candidates to sell if DPP is to return to power in the watershed May 21 elections.
He failed to connect with the people as his speech was far from impressive.
Chimulirenji laboured to make points but all that came out was his gratitude to ‘Pulofesa’ meaning Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika for taking him as his running mate.
Said Chimulirenji: “Ine ndi akazi angawa a Pulofesa adanditumiza kunja ku Ejipiti kwa mwenzi umodzi ndi hafu. Ndidzawathokoza a Pulofesa ( The President sent me to Cairo on education visit. I stayed there with my wife for a month and a half. The President has also been assigning me on foreign trips for political missions.)”
He promised that he will be a ‘loyal’ Vice President and will not ‘misbehave’ and be in conflict with the ‘Pulofesa’.
Chimulirenji said his nomination as runningmate has been received well by all people in the party including the Lhomwe belt who are believed to have opposed his nomination.
“When Professor was sending me outside the country or appointing me as deputy minister of defense, were there not Lhomwe peope around? Lhomwes and us Ngonis are cousins,” said Chimulirenji.
Chimlirenji s shrugged off those speaking ill against him on among other things that he is not a right candidate because he is infamous and uneducated.
He glorified Mutharika as a “visionary leader who has developed rhe country in the abscence of donors.”
Said Chimulirenji: “I accepted wholeheartedly to be his running mate. I have heard some people ridiculing me.”
He was apparently referring to stories that he can barely read and speak English fluently and that the party gurus are discontented with Chimulirenji, there is now a strong underground reaction to undermine him though publicly they will claim to show support.
At attempt was made by DPP Regional Governor for the South Charles Mchacha to bring in a Bible verse about Chimulirenji’s nomination as having being prophesied in the bible but it was a disaster.
“The David bible story indeed happened but the verse is not correct, ” said Msaka to the bilwiderment of the DPP supporters.
Perhaps the only positive thing that Chimulirenji did was not to castigate other opposition leaders especially Vice President Saulos Chilima who also hails from Ntcheu.
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that Chimulirenji speech at the first rally which was live on Times TV, left a lot to be desired.
“To say the least, it did not inspire the much needed confidence in the public. The DPP running mate spent much time praising Mutharika fir his appointment and promising he would not betray him.
“However, the only positive in his speech was his ability not to attack other politicians with insults. That’s the only thing one can take home otherwise his speech was empty,” said Munthali.
He said in the build up the elections, DPP will need to acknowledge that they have public speaking deficits in Mutharika and Chimulirenji and hence need to use orators like Uladi Mussa.
“Such they need to have a good back up of individuals in the party who are blessed with such skills to be able ti sell their manifestoes during political rallies. Otherwise, simply relying on the two may be recipe for disaster.”
Mzuzu-based political commentator Emily Mkamanga said in her published column that for the sake of winning the election, party members look forward to a credible choice of a running mate who should be a good alternative to the president, “not a mere puppet”.
She stated that Mutharika’s running mate is not well known nationwide compared to some senior Cabinet ministers.
“One cannot be completely wrong to suggest that the delay in coming up with running mate is likely due to the fact that presidents hate the idea of having a deputy. Therefore, they had to take time looking for puppets or ‘yes bwanas’. What is needed is that the presidential candidate and his running mate must be equal in all spheres to complement well in serving the country. This habit of having a President who goes outside the country and fails to handover power to his deputy must come to a stop. Malawi is not a personal property of a President,” pointed Mkamanga.
In Mutharika’s own words, he picked Chimulirenji because the Ntcheu North East legislator knows the roles of a vice president and a deputy president unlike, and by implication, an affront on all other DPP top brass which were expected to be running mates such as Kondwani Nankhumwa, Msaka, Goodall Gondwe, Samuel Tembenu and Henry Mussa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :