Malawi President Peter Mutharika received a lukewarm reception mainly from opposition on Friday when he delivered a State of the Nation Address (SSoja) but had a rare cheer from the opposition members of Parliament (MPs) when he acknowledged the presence of Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
That salutation, which came after First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, was met with thunderous claps and sparsely banging of tables from the opposition benches.
Apparently, there has been fevered speculation that the Mutharika and Chilima relationship has become distant.
This year President Mutharika took away the reforms from the Vice President’s office and put them under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
Analysts said at the time that the reforms’ move to OPC was political chess aimed at weakening Chilima who was getting popular for what many agree was an effective management of the reforms agenda.
While in public Mutharika and Chilima have put up a show of a model working relationship, the truth— if published reports is anything to go by —is that the President and his vice are not in good books.
Both the offices of the President and Vice-President dismiss the sour relationship.
During the one hour and 20 minutes delivery of the speech, President Mutharika received a standing ovation from the government side when he spoke about resumption of World Bank budget support with a $80 million (K60bn) injection into the 2017/18 budget while the opposition benches did not show any cause for celebration.
Sona themed ‘Harnessing Economic Gains for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development’, Mutharika focused on strategic achievements the government had made as well as plans for the year.