Vice-President Saulos Chilima has said he will not contest for any position at the forthcoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elective convention, saying he will, in the next few days, be following due procedures to leave the party.
Although Chilima, at a press conference Wednesday in Lilongwe, did not make it clear that he would contest as a presidential candidate in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, he hinted that he would be on the ballot paper.
However, he said he would be making an announcement soon on his next move.
“For now, as the DPP has announced that it is holding its convention this June, I have decided not to contest on the DPP ticket for any position at the forthcoming party convention, let alone challenge [for] the party’s presidency…..May democracy reign supreme and may the best candidates win,” he said.
But in his statement, in which he outlined major problems the country is facing, he said Malawians need 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,” Chilima said.
Some of the things he highlighted are:
- The connected and the powerful continue to plunder the country’s wealth [he said the country’s 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 on rain-fed agriculture
- Overpopulation and environmental degradation
- Nepotism, cronyism and regionalism are rampant [he said opportunities are a reserve for those with tribal connections].
He also insisted that his relationship with President Peter Mutharika has always been cordial despite reports to the contrary.
Responding to questions from journalists, Chilima said he is leaving the party so that he should not be seen to be causing confusion.
He said not showing interest in contesting for a position at the party’s convention is not a sign of cowardice.
“Back in 2014, I left my job at Airtel and went into an opposition political party. If that is a sign of cowardice, so be it,” he said.
The Vice President did not rule out the possibility of remaining in politics after leaving DPP.
“Will I contest in [next year’s presidential elections] or will I support another candidate? I will explain what I will do next later,” Chilima said.
While appreciating the support he has from a number of DPP National Governing Council (NGC) members, he said the people supporting him are better placed to comment on their reactions to the decision he has made.
In his preamble, Chilima said, despite sacrifices made by the country’s freedom fighters, Malawians continue suffering.
“Our nation 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 to send their children to private schools,” he said.
He, however, said Malawians have to take control of what is happening in the country.
In his statement, Chilima said he would explain his vision for the country later.
Former first lady Callista Mutharika was the first to publicly endorse Chilima to be DPP presidential candidate before other prominent DPP members added their voice. They eventually formed what is now called Chilima Movement.
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