Mutharika picks Chilima, file nomination papers for Malawi presidency

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika on Monday officially unveiled Airtel Malawi’s CEO Saulos Chilima as runningmate when he filed nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) In Blantyre  seeking election to the position of Republican President for May 20 elections.

Thousands of DPP supporters gathered to cheer their torch bearer at Comesa Hall in Blantyre when Mutharika filed in his nomination. There was traffic jam on Chipembere Masauko Highway as DPP supporters turned in large numbers to cheer up their president and his running-mate, a new face on the political scene.

Mutharika picked Chilima as first reported by Nyasa Times – as his vice president nominee. They will both run on DPP ticket in the crucial May 20 polls.

DPP's Mutharika and Chilima
DPP’s Mutharika and Chilima

The DPP presidential candidate filed his papers before Justice Mackson Mbendere who is MEC chairperson.

Mutharika was accompanied by DPP National Governing Council members who included Patricia Kaliati and Secretary-general Jean Kalilai, top executives and shadow parliamentarians of DPP also accompanied their candidate.

The DPP torch bearer and Chilima both boarded an open vehicle with an escort of over 30 cars branded in DPP colours.

Wearing a blue suit, Chilima waved to the DPP supporters who thronged to COMESA.

Speaking after presenting the nomination papers, Mutharika urged the authorities not to use political manipulation of legal system to deny Malawians their rights.

“It’s been a long journey as you all know. I accept this responsibility, I can’t do it alone, I need support from all DPP members and all Malawians,” said Mutharika.
Taking his turn, MEC Chair Justice Mbendera urged the candidates to practice clean politics.

“Malawians are tired with mudslinging and foul mouthed politics. You have to champion clean politics when you do your campaign,” he said.

Mbendera also tackled the issue of US Green Card which the ruling People’s Party (PP) leaders argued as a holder of the same, Mutharika cannot participate in the elections as he owed allegiance to a foreign country.

“We sought issues from three distinguished lawyers and one of them being the Attorney General (AG) all of them said one should and cannot be barred to contest in the elections,” he said.

He gave examples of Dr Mponda Mkandawire and Dr Meke Mtewa who both contested during the 1994 elections and were holders of the Green Card.

Chilima’s Fact File

The 40-year-old Chilima is regarded to potentially deliver the all-important youth vote.

Chilima is the first Malawian to head Airtel, the leading mobile telecommunications company in Malawi.

He held senior sales and marketing positions in banking and the fast-moving consumer goods sectors, namely the Leasing and Finance Company, Unilever Malawi, Coca Cola and Carlsberg before joining the telecommunications field.

Politics not new to Chilima as he is one of the youths who also played a pivotal role in championing multi-party democracy when he was president of students union at Chancellor College.

Chilima holds a Master’s degree in Economics and is currently reading towards a PhD in Business Management with the University of Bolton.

A devout Catholic with church leadership positions, Chilima is a Ngoni from Ntcheu, married to Mary and have two children.

Business at standstill in Malawi's commerciail hub, Blantyre when Peter Mutharika and Saulos Chilima passed on their way to file nomination papers
Business at standstill in Malawi’s commerciail hub, Blantyre when Peter Mutharika and Saulos Chilima passed on their way to file nomination papers
DPP ticket: Mutharika and Chilima
DPP ticket: Mutharika and Chilima

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