Politics and governance commentators have commended Vice-President Saulos Chilima for his “drain the swamp” call and that his resignation from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) clears his way to have a good platform to advance his vision for “a just Malawi” by contesting in in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Chilima—who remains Vice-President until the end of his term next May— described the country as riddled with corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
“My fellow Malawians, we must give this country a new lease of life. This is the only place we can call home. There is no other place we can call home. For me, this is the only house I have lived in. We must demand better of ourselves. We must clean this house. We must clean our house. We must drain the swamp. This is our country. This is our future. Dziko Lathu. Tsogolo Lathu,” said Chilima.
Chilima likely drew his inspiration for the phrase from President Ronald Reagan. In 1980, Reagan called to “drain the swamp” of bureaucracy in Washington, and created the Grace Commission, which identified $424 billion of wasteful government spendingthat could be cut.
He said his vision was a Malawi that promoted love, peace, unity, compassion and knows no tribalism, nepotism and creed.
“A Malawi whose citizens will once again walk tall wherever they will go because of the discipline and respect for authority, law and order. A Malawi that will be corrupt-free, a haven for hard work and where its citizens will protect its assets,” he said.
A governance expert Mankhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that Chilima could be a game changer in 2019 elections.
“I strongly believe he will stand as a presidential candidate in 2019,” he said.
“However, it will be interesting to see how far and to what extent will this Chilima for Presidency crusade have a bearing on the political dynamics of 2019 elections where many had initially concluded that it shall be purely a two horse race between MCP Chakwera and DPP Mutharika. To what extent will Chilima’s 2019 presidential candidature affect Mutharika’s chances of retaining government? To what extent will Chilima’s candidature affect Chakwera’s chances of winning 2019 elections?
“Certainly, Chilima’s candidature in might change the political landscape as we approach 2019 elections considering his appeal to the youth vote, the Catholic Church (where he is a staunch Catholic) and of course the undecided voters who are frustrated with Mutharika’s leadership but at the same time not convinced that Chakwera is the suitable alternative to Mutharika. This may hence work to Chilima’s advantage to pull up a surprise injury time victory in 2019 elections,” said Munthali.
However, he observed that on the other hand Chilima’s candidature may work to the advantage of MCP Chakwera in a scenario where he manages to divide the DPP votes.
“This is certainly the main reason why there is more panic in Mutharika’s DPP camp as the worst thing they would want to see is to have their worst political enemy Chakwera win the election,” he said.
Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa said time is against Chilima to launch his own political party ahead of the 2019.
“The best he can do is to join forces with another party, a winning party and as of now, the right party is the Malawi Congress Party,” he said.
Political commentator Humphrey Mvula said for the first time he saw a Malawian politician divorcing himself from a political hurling insults and making stinging attacks on the leadership of his former party.
“He was composed, smart, never talked bad against anybody in the DPP, that is rare and unique,” he said.
The Vice-President had only kind words for Mutharika, expressing his gratitude for “growing me out of the baby that I was”, perhaps in subtle reference to remarks Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe made at the advent of the calls for Chilima to succeed the current President.
Mvula said DPP has lost a political asset with much appeal to the youth and working class
Mustafa Hussein, another political scientist said Chilima has a huge political future after the DPP.
“What he needs to do is make political strategies so that he remains politically relevant on the political scene,” he said.
DPP deputy publicist Zeria Chakale said the party will go ahead with its election preperations with or without Chilima saying the party was larger than an individual.
At a news conference in Lilongwe, where he made the announcement, Chilima saluted personal sacrifices that the country’s freedom and democracy fighters—such as the Catholic bishops in 1992 and the late Reverend John Chilembwein 1915—made, saying his own sacrifices pale in comparison.
“There comes a time in everyone’s life when one has to bid farewell to personal comfort for the benefit of his compatriots. It is a decision that our forefathers made as I have already said. It is a decision that I have made,” he said.
Governance and development specialist Henry Chingaipe backed Chilima for diagnosing the challenges the country faces with the hope that in his ultimate decision he will expound on how to deal with them.
Said Chilima: “Yes, people will ask. You were right in the system, why did you not change things? This will be yet another discussion point as I will shortly be sharing with you all my fellow Malawians my plans for my future.”
He said with concerns that Malawi remains one of the poorest in the world.
“Our communities are being ravaged by curable diseases; corruption is worsening and with it comes the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor; our public education system is crumbling forcing those with a little bit of money send their children to private schools; the connected and the powerful continue to plunder our nation’s wealth as our hospitals lack basic medicines and medical equipment due to lack of funding; agriculture remains subsistent and the threat of hunger is always looming due to over-reliance of rain- fed agriculture; unbridled overpopulation and environmental degradation are threatening our communities; nepotism, cronyism and regionalism are rampant as opportunities are a reserve for those with tribal connections,” he said.
Chilima said time has come when each and every able Malawian to take ownership of the future of our country.
”We must fight for a just Malawi. A Malawi that will indeed showcase milk and honey. A Malawi that will promote Love, Peace, Unity, Compassion, Discipline and Self-esteem. A Malawi that knows no Tribalism, Nepotism, Racism and Creed. A Malawi whose citizens will once again walk tall wherever they will go, because of the discipline and respect for authority, law and order. A Malawi that will be corrupt-free, a haven for hard work and where its citizens will protect its assets,” he said.
Next step? Chilima is joining Malawians across the political divide calling for a united transformational leadership to change the destiny of the country and of a bigger announcement will be made in sooner.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :