EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from South Korea, Chilima allegedly skipped protocol in flying out of Lilongwe

In a twist to the tragic plane crash saga, highly placed government source with access to operations in the office of the office of the vice president, have confided in Nyasatimes that the departed Veep, Right Honourable Dr Saulos Chilima, was not delegated to represent President Lazarus Chakwera at the burial ceremony of former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara on Monday in Nkhata Bay.

Chakwera and Chlima together.

Death of Dr Chilima and eight others was announced by President Chakwera on Tuesday and in his address, the Malawi leader said they died in a plane crash inside Chikangawa Forest while returning to Lilongwe after they failed to land at Mzuzu Airport due to bad weather.

It was said that Dr Chilima—in company of his doctor, security details, crew and former first lady Patricia Shanil—was going to Nkhata Bay to represent Chakwera at Kasambara’s burial.

However, contrary to that, the source from the veep’s office told Nyasatimes on condition of anonymity, saying Dr Chilima was not delegated to the burial.

The source confided in us that, because of his scheduled departure to Bahamas and Switzerland on Monday through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) at 17:00 hours (GMT), the president wanted the Vice President, as protocol demands, to see him off so that, as the Constitution dictates, he takes over the reigns of power.

“The president understood that Dr Chilima had just returned on Saturday evening from the South Korea trip where he was delegated to represent him at Africa-South Korea Business Summit. He knew Dr Chilima needed rest as he will have to see him off Monday after,” said the source.

The source told us that Chakwera had delegated Local Government Minister, Honourable Richard Chimwendo, to represent him. However, the change in representation came in when it was realized that Defence Minister and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice president, Harry Mkandawire, also confirmed attending the burial and this, the source told us, led the president to instruct Mkandawire to lead the delegation with Chimwendo just being part of it.

“At the funeral we were surprised to hear that the Veep is coming because MC had already announced that Hon. Mkandawire was the one representing the President.  Now it makes sense that he didn’t even inform the president,” said another source who attended the funeral.

These developments, somehow, explains why in the flight there wasn’t any other Cabinet official—just Dr Chilima, his medical personnel, his two security personnel, the three crew members, his deputy director of protocol, and Miss Shanil, his personal assistant.

We tried to verify with the office of the vice president however, being the season of mourning, it hasn’t been easy to get in touch with any official.

Meanwhile, several opposition political parties in the country have spoken in solidarity with government, underlining the need for the nation to be united in these trying moments of grief.



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