President Peter Mutharika’s long time confidant Ben Phiri says he is now back in front line politics, immediately ruling out the possibility of Mutharika giving way for Vice President Saulos Chilima as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate.
Calling himself a political lion, Phiri, who is DPP director of field operations also known as Field Marshall, said Mutharika deserves another term of office, dismissing former First Lady Callista Mutharika opennsupport for Chilima towards a presidential run under the DPP banner at the expense of incumbent Peter Mutharika—who is her brother in-law.
“APM (Mutharika) has done a lot during his first term of office, he therefore deserves another term,” Phiri told journalists in Lilongwe.
He trashed former First Lady Callista Mutharika for her Chilima-for-President crusade, saying the winning ticket for DPP is Mutharika pairing with Chilima as it were in the previous presidential polls.
Callista has been making headlines since last week when she openly said her in-law is “aged”; hence, Malawians should not give him their vote and install Chilima as President instead.
Phiri said Mutharika and Chilima is a good pair and that they yet to be convened DPP convention will decide on the candidature of the 2019 polls.
During the news conference , Phiri said time for Chilima to take over the party is not ripe.
“Dr Chilima is still learning like anyone else . DPP is grooming the party leaders and Chilima is one of the leaders being groomed,” said Phiri.
Phiri also did not rule out replacing Mutharika when his term of office expires suggesting he was being tested.
“I am still learning dynamic of politics , I am still learning,” said Phiri.
During interview with Zodiak radio, Callista responding to a journalist question that a Ben Phiri is among the potential names mentioned to take over the DPP mantle, she said but she that would be a “gratuitous insult” to Malawians.
“Umenewo ungakhale nyozo (That would be an insult). I have never heard about that, but, if true, that would be a gratuitous insult. Malawians are not stupid. What is your personal take on that? Do you think the people you are mentioning can rule a country? I mean, can they govern? Can the they steer the ship in the right direction? Can the poor be uplifted from the doldrums of poverty? Some people think it is easy to take advantage of the low literacy rate in our rural areas, so they just wake up and say ‘I can be president.’ It’s not that easy,” said the former first lady.
“Let me make a plea to the people in our rural areas: when you hear so-and-so plans to contest as president, ask carefully: what kind of education has he or she had? What are his or her plans? Aren’t these the very same thieves plundering government entities? They need to ask themselves those questions,” she said bluntly.
The journalist pressed Callista further to explain what was wrong with Ben Phiri not to be eligible to run for president.
In her response, Callista said she had no intention to speak further on specific individuals, but said “just do your research and look carefully into their personal stories. I will not say anything more than that. Find out what people out there say.”
During the interview, Callista pointed out that Malawians are engulfed by too much fear.
“ Why is that so? God protects us. Let us learn to speak the truth, to stand for what is right. In addition, let us not deceive the masses in rural areas, to whom we go masquerading as philanthropists, yet these so-called philanthropists are thieves, stealing from your government, stealing from public entities . . . my plea to those stealing is please, stop that. People are suffering in rural areas. You are stealing money that could have assisted the poor.”
The widow of the former president Bingu wa Mutharika also took a dig at DPP secretary general (SG) Greselder Jeffrey who trashed her views that Chilima should become the ruling party’s presidential candidate in 2019.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :