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Lazarus Chakwera, bishops discuss Saulos Chilima

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Anthony Kasunda

The relationship between President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima was part of the agenda during the meeting the President had with Catholic Bishops under the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) at Sanjika Palace on Monday.

State House Press Secretary Anthony Kasunda confirmed that the relationship between the President and his vice was, indeed, one of the issues discussed at the meeting, with the President assuring the bishops that the perceived bad blood between himself and his vice was the work of propagandists.

“President Chakwera pointed out that he agreed with the Vice President to use the Public Sector Reforms Report internally and that what should be made public be recommendations collectively adopted by Cabinet to ensure mutual responsibility as guided by the Tonse spirit.

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“On why he merged the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and, by implication, taking away the latter from Chilima, President Chakwera informed ECM that the merger was done in compliance with a recommendation made by a special committee which was led by the Vice President himself,” Kasunda said.

The perception of bad blood in the Tonse Alliance, and especially between Chakwera and his vice, gathered momentum after Chilima was relieved of his role as minister of Economic Planning and Development, which was merged with the Ministry of Finance now headed by Sosten Gwengwe.

Again, speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet, Chakwera directed members of the Cabinet to directly report affairs of their ministries to him.

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The statement was also widely perceived as directed at those affiliated with Chilima’s UTM.

At the meeting on Monday, Chakwera reassured the clerics of his government’s resolve to fight corruption saying, among other things, that his government was, through the office of the Attorney General, challenging all dubious claims against the government.

The meeting was the sixth of its kind since Chakwera became president in June 2020.

ECM spokesperson Father Henry Saindi did not pick up his mobile phone for a comment.

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