Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of women and one of its founding members, Patricia Kaliati has accused President Peter Mutharika of clinging to power after allegedly promising the party to serve only one presidential term and retire in 2019 to pave way for someone else, young and energetic.
Mutharika has on more than one occasion declared he will lead DPP in the elections.
But Kaliati addressing a news conference with DPP members sympathetic to Vice-President Saulos Chilima, said Mutharika had told DPP troops at Bineth Trust Offices in Limbe in 2014 that he would serve for five years only, retire and pave way for someone else, young and energetic.
Kaliati said the 79-years-old Mutharika has indeed aged and may not be able to continue beyond his first five years.
“We find Mutharika’s leadership wanting and deeply flawed; he is a weak leader and must not be allowed to continue carrying the DPP as its President beyond 2019. The people that are prodding Mutharika and cheering him on as a good leader are simply unfair to Malawians; to the DPP but above all, they are being unfair to Mutharika himself,” said Kaliati.
She said the President has also demonstrated poor leadership skills and fails to make decisions, saying he “over-consults” on “straightforward issues” that he has to deal with.
In her presentation, Kaliati depicted a constitutional crisis in the DPP, claiming all National Governing Council (NGC) positions became vacant in April 2018.
She blamed President Mutharika of plunging the party into a constitutional crisis because he has allegedly failed or he has been reluctant to call for periodic NGC meetings since 2013..
Oblivious of what the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi stipulates about age of presidential candidates and presidential terms of office, Kaliati made reference to Ian Khama, former President of Botswana, whom she said “bequeathed the baton of leadership to his much younger and more energetic deputy, Mokgweetsi Masisi.”
A policy public analyst Vilije Kamudoni Nyirenda told Nyasa Times that as a Member of Parliament and former cabinet minister, Kaliati failed to appreciate that Malawi is a sovereign state, which does not copy other countries’ leadership trends.
“Kaliati also dangerously failed to appreciate that Malawi is a democracy and that it is only the people of Malawi who put individuals into positions of authority,” he said.
Blantyre City East member of Parliament (MP) and former DPP regional governor (South) Noel Masangwi, a member of the Chilima Movement, made the most trivial remarks when he claimed the President is not a good public speaker, denigrating the Head of State in public.
“One would expect that a serious movement with serious social, economic and political agenda would assess President Mutharika based on his performance in delivering DPP’s development agenda as set out in its 2014 manifesto instead of his public speaking abilities,” observed Kamudoni Nyirenda.
Both Nyirenda andpresidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalirani said the Chilima Movement was a grouping of disgruntled politicians who are driven by individual selfish motives.
”From their sentiments at the press conference, one is left with no doubt that the team lacks a clear and strategic political direction to steer DPP to greater heights other than to sow seeds of discord and disunity in the party. It can be stated without fear of contradiction that the Chilima team comprises opportunistic politicians who have always wanted to acquire personal wealth through illegal means. It was therefore ironical when one of the members emphatically accused President Mutharika of presiding over a corrupt administration; the same administration they have been part of for the past four solid years,”Nyirenda observed.
And Kalilani said Malawians are the best judges.
“President Mutharika has achieved more developmental projects in four years across the country than any leader before him. He has stabilised the economy from a very difficult period and all professional bona-fide economic analysts have hailed him for that. What the President has failed is to accommodate these questionable characters in his administration and he has no regrets for that,” said Kalilani.
Former first lady Callista Mutharika—widow of DPP founding president and the incumbent President’s elder brother, Bingu wa Mutharika—sparked the succession debate weeks ago when she said her in-law, 79, should pave the way for the comparatively younger Chilima, 45, widely seen as a hands-on and results-oriented leader as evidenced by the success of the Public Sector Reforms Programme he vibrantly led which has lost steam since it was moved from his office.