Muhlakho wa a Lhomwe members and some chiefs from the southern region are not pleased with President Peter Mutharika’s choice of Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development and Parliamentarian for Ntcheu North East, Everton Herbert Chimulirenji as his successor.
Mutharika picked Chimulirenji as his running mate for his re-election bid in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Nyasa Times understands that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe top brass has been having underground meetings to discuss the President’s choice of his successor as the party loyalist were ambushed as they only learnt about it at Comesa Hall in Blantyre when Mutharika presented his presidential nomination forms to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials and were heard murmuring in disapproval.
According sources in Mulhakho wa Alhomwe, the members expressed their anger on First Lady Gertrude Mutharika and President Mutharika’s Security aide Norman Paulos Chisale accusing them of misleading the President to pick their preferred successor Chimulirenji.
Many people especially from the Lhomwe belt had hope that Mutharika would ensure a proper succession plan with the blessing of the party top brass.
With the appointment of Chimulirenji as Mutharika’s running mate and in the event that DPP wins the May watershed elections, Chimulirenji will be Vice President, the Lhomwe people believe they are losing grip of the party.
“People are very angry with the First Lady and Chisale because they believe that it is them who influenced Mutharika to pick Chimulirenji. Even the chiefs wondered why Mutharika acted this way,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“They have agreed to send a delegation to meet Mutharika and demand answers for his action before deciding what to do next,” added the source.
Inside sources at State House said the Chimulirenji deal was done a few weeks ago after Mutharika rejected the name of Bright Msaka as his running mate.
“It was after the Msaka issue that the First Lady and Chisale pushed for the name of Chimulirenji because he comes from Ntcheu and would protect them than other Mulhakho people. But they convinced Mutharika that Chimulirenji will counter the Saulos Chilima vote in Ntcheu and the boss was convinced,” said the source.
Strongman Chisale comes from Ntcheu and the First Lady comes from Balaka.
It is not known if Mutharika will grant the group an audience as it is Chisale and the First Lady who controls the diary of the President.
Mutharika has already defended his preferred choice, saying he had settled for Chimulirenji because of his integrity, educational qualifications, outstanding performance and a team player who would effectively help him run government for the next five years.
“He understands the difference between a vice-president and deputy president and that a vice-president is always delegated and the vice-president will never be a co-president,” said Mutharika.
Commentators say lack of succession plans and intra-party democracy are the source of chaos for handing over the leadership mantle.
Malawi political parties have been advised to embrace intra-party democracy, tolerance and devise proper succession plans as “good leaders do not leave a vacuum or chaos”.
Chimulirenji, 56, is also part of Mutharika’s Cabinet, served as deputy minister for Defence before the latest Cabinet reshuffle took him to his present portfolio as Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development.
He is also the party’s deputy national director of elections, a position he was elected to at the party’s national convention in 2018.
Chimulirenji studied business administration and once worked with the then Ministry of Works. He was running a construction company when he joined newly formed DPP in 2005 under the stewardship of former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :