President Peter Mutharika leaves South Africa for the United Kingdom this Sunday having left a political whirlwind dubbed Hurricane Callista in his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with the district governors for the party in the north declaring their support for Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima as the party’s torch-bearer in the 2019 elections.
Muthariks will be away for a two-week visit to the United Kingdom that starts with his attending a three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) on Monday. He will later go on a four-day State visit to Scotland.
The DPP vice regional governor for the north Afick Mbewe said most of the district governors in the region are in support of the idea that Mutharika paves way for Chilima to be the party torch bearer in the elections.
“I am in the system and I know what is going on. There are some people who are making some decisions for the President taking advantage that he is aged. We need someone who is energenic and can make decisions on
his own,” said Mbewe.
He said some traditional leaders are still bitter with the party because of the fracas last year orchestrated by some party members at the Tumbuka ceremony called Gonapamuhanya.
Mbewe said although the President wanted to discipline those involved in the fracas, he was restrained by people who surround him and he gave in on his decision to discipline the perpetrators of the violence that saw some people injured and Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera forced out of the event.
President Mutharika’s in-law, former first lady Callista Mutharika ignited the debate on the choice of the DPP presidential candidate, saying that the 79-year-old President is old and must retire because he is no longer popular enough to make the party win next year’s elections. Instead, she declared that the youthful Chilima, aged 45, should be the DPP presidential candidate next year, if the party hopes to retain the presidency.
Some DPP senior officials who have openly backed the pro-Chilima sentiments uttered by Callista include the party’s director of youth, Louis Ngalande, and outspoken Member of Parliament for Mulanje South Bon Kalindo.