Malawi government has justified the decision to allocated President Peter Mutharika’s running mate in the May 21 polls, Everton Chimulirenji, full privileges of a State vice president, saying his status has changed.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology, who is also government spokesperson, Henry Mussa, said on Sunday that Chimulirenji’s status had changed, hence, deserving enhanced security.
“Chimulirenji is no longer an ordinary Cabinet minister. He is a Vice-President in waiting,” Mussa told journalists after the Ntcheu rally which was live on Times TV.
Chimulirenji, who is also Minister of Civic Education, has had his security detail scaled up from one armed police officer to six. . A serving cabinet minister is entitled to one armed police officer.
He travelled from Lilongwe to Ntcheu for the rally on a motorcade of at least four vehicles including a lead Malawi Police vehicle with sirens reserved for a serving State President and Vice President.
Mussa justified reasons why Chimulirenji has been given privileges of a sitting vice president.
“His status has changed since he was appointed running mate to Mutharika. He is now number 2 to the President,” said Mussa.
Mussa said there were precedents before with regard to running mate.
“When Joyce Banda [during the former president’s administration in 2014] picked Sosten Gwengwe as running mate she had increased his security detail. It’s normal. The status has changed,” said Mussa.
During the DPP rally, Minister of Education Bright Msaka who is a lawyer by profession, deputy minister of homeland security Charles Mchacha and party secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey publicily addressed Chimulirenji as the country’s Vice-President.
“The only Vice-President of the country we recognise is Right Honourable Chimulirenji,” said Jeffrey.
In his remarks, Msaka said in Chimulirenji the country will have someone who “when the President is out of the country will not appoint a new Cabinet”. This was a thinly veiled attack on incumbent State vice-president Saulos Chilima, who fell out with Mutharika and is challenging him in the presidential race on UTM Party ticket.
The development comes in the wake of a review of security detail for Chilima despite a court order against tampering with his security detail.
Police also grabbed a Police siren vehicle from Chilima and allocated it to the Department of Disaster, again, ignoring a court order.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that the need for tightening secutiry for Mutharika’s running mate “cannot be underestimated.”
He said: “ We all know that his appointment has been received with mixed reactions and the President might be afraid of his own frustrated DPP inner circle.
“However, what is problematic is to use tax payers money. Such resources would better be channelled to protection of persons with albinism. Let DPP use its own resources to strengthen security of its running mate not tax payers money.”
A political analyst said the blatant impunity being showed by government by treating Chimulirenji as a serving state vice president will have an impact on the image of the DPP and may cost it some votes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :