Welcome to a new editorial analysis open to feedback and debate called Malawi Explainer.
Since the days of Malawi’s first president the late Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the Malawi Army sends a high ranking official called an aide de Camp (ADC) to act as a military confidential secretary on routine matters of the head of state.
Apart from the ADC, the Police will also send a Presidential Guard Commander to State house to oversee the security of the Head of State.
Since Kamuzu days, the ADC and the Presidential Guard Commander have been seen just at the back of the Head of State, close enough to serve the ‘Principal’ at any time that the ‘Principal’ would need anything. The ADC and Guard Commander are close to the seat of power.
Come Malawi’s second President and first one in the multiparty era, Bakili Muluzi, he, too, had an ADC and Guard Commander. The current Army Commander General Griffin Spoon Phiri once served as Muluzi’s ADC.
The seating arrangement did not change, the ADC and Guard Commander were seen seating behind their ‘Principal’.
This was also the same when the late Bingu Mutharika became Malawi’s third democratically elected president in 2004.
Even when Joyce Banda ascended to the presidency as per constitutional order after the death of Bingu Mutharika in April 2012, her ADC and Guard Commander also sat behind her during official and even private functions.
An Aide de Camp is also responsible for organizing the diary of the President.
After Peter Mutharika was sworn in as Malawi’s fifth president in 2014, we started seeing some changes in the way his security detail was being organized. Although the ADC and Guard Commander were there but they were slowly being displaced by his powerful security aide, Norman Paulos Chisale, a former valet in the Malawi Army.
In fact just a few months into his presidency, some presidential aides were being pushed out of State House.
The Nation newspaper, reported in its March 5, 2015 edition that Lieutenant Colonel Fostino Gunda-Phiri was removed from his position as Mutharika’s ADC, joining a growing list of the President’s aides to leave State House.
“I can confirm that Lieutenant Colonel Phiri is no longer with State House. He has been recalled to MDF to carry out other duties,” MDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Francis Kakhuta-Banda told The Nation.
However, Kakhuta-Banda could not give the reasons for Gunda-Phiri’s removal from State House, only saying the Army Commander saw it necessary to recall and assign him to other duties.
But insiders said Gunda-Phiri was ousted through maneuvers of Chisale who by now, had changed the sitting set up where he took a ‘vantage point’ by seating at an arms’-length of the President.
“Everything is now handled by Chisale, you talk about HE appointments, and he controls who sees the President and who does not meet the President. To say the truth the ADC is just lame duck, Chisale is the one controlling everything,” said a source close to the powers at State House.
“That is why he made sure that he kicked out Ben Phiri from State House. Ben Phiri was the only trusted aide of the President and it was not long before these two clashed and he made sure that Phiri is out of State House and that happened,” added the source.
The President is said to have trust in Chisale that ‘even if he is working in his office and does not see Chisale around for 15 minutes, he asks for him, he feels very safe with Chisale than anyone else’.
This is how Chisale has managed to get himself to the seat of power.
He now owns a fleet of cars some of which are similar to the official vehicle of the President, a top of the range Toyota Lexus SUV.
Chisale also dresses like his boss. The two were pictured spotting the same type of shoes recently, the same type that millionaire international France and Manchester United soccer star Paul Pogba was also pictured putting on.
The selection of Everton Chimulirenji to be running mate to Mutharika is also said to be influenced by Chisale, who was capture in a video clip stopping presidential motorcade at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre and pick Chimulirenji from the roadside to join the President as he presented nomination papers.
After setting himself close to the seat of power, what else does Chisale and President Mutharika share?
- In our next article, we will look at how Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) slain Director Issa Njaunju was killed, apparently in a mistaken identity and why his death investigation is taking forever to conclude.