At the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government has turned the screws on Vice-President Saulos Chilima – with backing from its sponsored groups -calling for his immediate resignation as he seeks to challenge President Peter Mutharika in the May 21 2019 presidential race, the matter has triggered debate with analysts and opposition giving mixed views.
.A group of ‘civil society organizations’ (CSOs) with strong links to (DPP has been agitating for the resignation Chilima after he left the ruling DPP in June this year and has expressed wish to contest against Mutharika in next year’s elections.
Henry Chingaipe, a political analyst questioned the move to call for the Vice President’s resignation, arguing the office is protected by the Constitution, describing the move as too much ado about nothing.
He said the Vice-President can only resign on his own accord and said absence of impeachment procedures mean the DPP cannot forcibly remove him.
However, another political scientist said it is hard to remove Chilima or ask him to resign from his position of State Vice President and it is not surprising that the group associated with DPP is calling for the resignation of the Veep.
“But if anything, the one who should be thinking of resigning from his position is President Mutharika. Here is a state president who is being implicated in corruption and he is still in office,” he said.
“President Mutharika first received K145 million from one Zameer Karim who is implicated in a K2.9 billion food rations corruption scandal at Malawi Police. The money is deposited into a DPP account which he is a sole signatory and he withdrew some of this money.”
“On top of that, the same Karim buys 5 vehicles worth K85 million and gives them to President Mutharika, in fact the cars are registered in the President’s name. This is one scandal that could force a sitting president out, but because Malawians are passive, that is why he is still President. If it was in other countries, Mutharika would have either resigned or would have been booted out,” said the political scientist who asked not to be named.
“What is happening now for some people to call for the resignation of the Vice President is just a move to divert attention, because they know that it is President Mutharika who should be thinking of tendering his resignation now because of the issues surrounding his relationship with Karim.”
State House has maintained that President Mutharika did not benefit personally from Karim’s controversial donations.
But the analyst said many people are wondering that Karim has not been charged since these revelations came out.
“The DPP knows that it will be difficult to remove Chilima from his position as State Vice President. He was elected together with Mutharika and the processes of removing him is clearly stated in the Republican Constitution and there is nothing they can do and that is why they have resorted to using the ‘civil enterprises’ to call for his resignation.”
“At first some cabinet ministers tried to call for Chilima’s resignation but they failed. DPP needs to accept that Chilima has a contract with Malawians which will expire on 21st May 2019 and there is nothing they can do about it,” he added.
The pro-DPP groups have also been calling for Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya to resign for joining the United Transformation Movement (UTM) led by Chilima, claiming that by voluntarily resigning from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and wilfully joining UTM, has crossed the floor against Section 65 (1) of the Constitution.
Lawyer Justin Dzonzi described the calls as “misguided” because Msowoya joined a movement that has no representation in Parliament.
The section punishes members of Parliament (MPs) who voluntarily quit political parties that sponsored them to Parliament and join another party also represented in the National Assembly.
In 2005, former president and founder of DPP Bingu wa Mutharika also voluntarily dumped the United Democratic Front (UDF) which sponsored his presidential ticket in the 2004 General Elections and formed DPP. However, he did not resign as Head of State.
Immediate past president Joyce Banda also formed People’s Party (PP) in 2011 after being expelled from DPP, but continued to serve as Stare Vice-President.
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