By Jameson Chauluka & Samuel Kalimira:
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) top brass here pledged their support for President Peter Mutharika’s running mate in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, Everton Chimulirenji.
Senior party officials took turns in pledging their support for Mutharika’s choice at Chimulirenji’s maiden rally Sunday, held at Ntcheu Old Bus Depot, since he was named running mate.
DPP secretary general, Grezelder Jeffrey, described reports making rounds that the choice of Chimulirenji has divided the party as baseless.
“Let all those people who were saying that some people are not happy with Right Honourable Chimulirenji see this crowd, which has come to support him. We are all behind the running mate because we have total trust in Professor [Peter Mutharika],” she said.
Taking his turn, DPP vice president for the Eastern Region, Bright Msaka, said he was humbled that Mutharika, again, chose a running mate from the region.
Msaka then called to the stage the party’s regional governor for the South Charles Mchacha, who pledged total support for Mutharika and Chimulirenji.
“Let me ask the trustees of Mulhako wa Alhomwe who are here to stand. We have hounourable [Joseph] Mwanamvekha and Henry Mussa here, so when you say the Lhomwes are not happy, which Lhomwes are you talking about?” He said.
In his speech, Chimulirenji pledged to work with Mutharika in the run up to the elections.
He said he was humbled by the position, saying Mutharika would have chosen anyone else to partner him.
He also dismissed reports that his appointment has divided the party, saying everyone is happy with him as Mutharika’s running mate.
“There are times that the President asked me to represent the party outside the country. The President made me deputy minister and now I am a full Cabinet minister, why were the Lhomwes not protesting such appointments?” he queried.
In a related development, DPP vice president responsible for the Northern Region, Goodall Gondwe, on Saturday defended Mutharika’s choice of Chimulirenji as his running mate.
Speaking when he addressed a political rally in Ntchengautuba, Mzuzu, Gondwe said Chimulirenji is a Malawian who can run for any public office.
“Is Ntcheu not in Malawi? What is the problem? He [Chimulirenji] is a Malawian. To me, Peter Mutharika is a very wise person. I have stayed with him for over 60 years since our school days. If he chooses him [Chimulirenji], I know it is a wise choice. I will support the choice and I ask people here to support it,” Gondwe said.
Earlier, Gondwe left the gathering in stiches when he forgot Chimulirenji’s name, before DPP Northern Regional governor, Kenneth Sanga, intervened to remind him of the particulars.
“A Peter woyeee, a Peter woyee…bala ba runningmate ayime nawo…woyee… zina lawo nkhulimanya chomene cha … [I don’t know his name well],” Gondwe said.
In an interview, Gondwe clarified that there are a number of Cabinet ministers whose first names he struggles to remember, unless they are in Tumbuka.
Gondwe promised that DPP would construct roads and the long-awaited Mzuzu Youth Centre once Mutharika is voted into power again.
Gondwe clarified that the delay to construct Mzuzu Youth Centre is because the project was promised by the Chinese government and that Capital Hill has been pushing for its implementation.
He said the Chinese government has now promised to implement the project.
Non-governmental organisations such as Youth and Society have been voicing their concerns over the government’s failure to construct the centre.
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