DPP plot constitutional change on Malawi vice president

They say once beaten twice shy. Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is planning on amending a constitutional provision that gives mandate to the Vice President to finish off a term of a President in the event of the incumbent death, Nyasa Times can reveal.

DPP wants to table the constitutional amendment bill next year to change the law so that in the event of the death of a Head of State, the Vice President should only take over as President for 90 days before calling for fresh elections.

Section 83 (4) of the Constitution reads:  “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the President, The First Vice President shall assume that office for the remainder of the term and shall appoint another person to serve as First Vice President for the remainder of the term.”

President Mutharika and his  vice president Chilima
President Mutharika and his vice president Chilima

According to inside sources, some DPP gurus are losing sleep over this piece of legislation considering how they got out of government when former President Bingu wa Mutharika died in office and his estranged deputy, Joyce Banda took over the reigns of power.

“Meetings have started already and MPs are being approached to support the constitutional amendment when it is tabled in Parliament late next year or early 2016,” said a source privy to the plot.

The  move is said to have been championed by President Peter Mutharika’s Adviser on Strategy and Communication, Bright Malopa  and some cabinet ministers from the Lomwe belt namely Henry Mussa, George Chaponda, Patricia Kaliati, state chief spy Nicholus Dausi and businessman Leston Ted Mulli.

“These people do not want to be beaten twice. Memories are still fresh on what happened when Bingu passed on and they do not want to imagine what will happen if something like that happens to the incumbent,” said the source.

But the strategists are doing all this behind President  Mutharika aka APM’s back ‘at the moment’ as it is said the President has full confidence in his Vice,  Saulos Klaus Chilima.

“Some of these people have tried to bring rift between the two but APM loves Chilima. What is paining the strategists most is that APM sends his Vice even to functions of Mulhakho wa Alomwe to be Guest of Honour and this has made them to start strategizing now,” said the source.

APM sent Chilima to represent him during the funeral of Paramount Chief Mkhumba who was patron of Mulhakho wa Alomwe early July this year and also sent Chilima to be Guest of Honour at a Mulhakho wa Alomwe fundraising event in Lilongwe last month.

The source said the team planning constitutional amendment has been in constant touch with  retired MCP President John Tembo, who apparently is still has influence the party, in trying to garner support for the constitutional amendment.

“What you should know is that a lot of MPs are being approached on this issue as we speak,” disclosed the source.

Just last Sunday APM disclosed at a public rally in Blantyre that he will seek another mandate in 2019 and denied that DPP was not working on Plan B for the 2019 elections.

“Far from the rumours that we are working on Plan B for the 2019 elections, let me tell you that I will be contesting. If some of you thought otherwise, sorry, wait for 2024; maybe that is when you can stand,” said Mutharika during his first political rally in Blantyre since winning the May 20 Tripartite Elections.

Mutharika  rejected rumours that he would only serve one term.

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