Peter declares Ben Phiri ‘special one’, ‘lectures’ Chilima on ‘Vice Presidency’

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members have expressed worry that its president Peter Mutharika is displaying traits of dictatorial tendencies barely two months before Malawians go to the polls to elect President, MPs and Ward Councillors on May 20 following his recent imposition on the party’s NGC of his Personal Assistant, Ben Phiri, as in-charge of all party operations.

According to a highly-placed DPP sources, Mutharika is “increasing growing arrogant and aloof by the day and behaving like he has already won the elections”.

“A case in point is the recently held NGC meeting which was held in Lilongwe on March 4, 2014. Table banging, threats and decrees characterized the meeting, and Mutharika made it clear that he is the ultimate authority in the party and that he is free to make major decisions without consulting anyone,” the source told Nyasa Times

Mutharika: Ben Phiri is the 'special one'
Mutharika: Ben Phiri is the ‘special one’

He said Mutharika has created an inner circle in the party, comprising Ben Phiri, Sai Kaphale, Chimwemwe Chipungu and Kondwani Nakhumwa.

This inner circle is practically making all decisions regarding party operations, a scenario that has rendered other elected positions useless and inoperable, he revealed.

Said the source: “Mutharika has displayed all traits that he is not a listening leader. Imagine he has created a very senor position for Ben Phiri, his Personal Assistant, as Director of Operations and Field Work, a hitherto non-existent position within the party structures. This means he is the de-facto Chief Operating Officer of the party above the Secretary General”.

According to the source, during that meeting, it was evident from the muted response from the members, when Ben Phiri, in his ‘acceptance speech’, demanded that all elected members should be submitting reports to him. Many senior members, including George Chaponda, Jean Kalirani and Henry Mussa kept quiet, seemingly shocked by what was going on.”

Mutharika is also said to have lectured his running mate, Saulos Chilima, on the difference between Deputy President and Vice President.

“Chilima was told ‘pointblank’ that he is Vice President and not Deputy President, and therefore cannot assume a role of a President, as his position is more or less ceremonial. He was told the Vice President just gets instructions from the President.

“Chilima remained dead silent as Mutharika gave his lecturer on ‘Vice President and Deputy President’,” said the source who attended the meeting.

This is not the first time that the relationship between Peter Mutharika and Ben Phiri has raised eyebrows, and the latest episode has only strengthened the rumour that Ben Phiri could be more than just a Personal Assistant to the DPP presidential hopeful.

Ben Phiri: The kingpin
Ben Phiri: The kingpin

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