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‘Leston Mulli started Chilima plot’

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Leston Mulli started the ‘rebel group’ that started the campaign for Vice-President Saulos Chilima to take over from President Peter Mutharika as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer in May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, party director of youth Lewis Ngalande revealed Sunday.

Ngalande said Mulli only backed down after he was paid K3.1billion in compensation for damages his company suffered during the July 20 2011 demonstrations.

“Mulli was one of [the] rebels but, because he received his money, he backed down…In fact, how would the government pay K3.1 billion without an argument in court, not even an evaluation of damages…Is that fair?” Ngalande queried.

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He said he was surprised to be called for a meeting— which was arranged by Lhomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa and Mulli— with Mutharika at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Tuesday last week.

“It is also surprising that this is a party issue but, to our surprise, Mulli and Ngolongoliwa were the ones chairing the meeting,” Ngalande said.

He revealed that the move to silence Mulli with money came about after realising that he has influence in the Lhomwe belt and that the move would deflate other pro-Chilima DPP members— including Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati, who is also DPP national director of women, and Blantyre East lawmaker Noel Masangwi, who also attended the Tuesday meeting.

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“Even if we align ourselves to Mutharika, the truth of the matter is that Mutharika cannot win the elections in 2019,” he said.

Ngalande’s revelations were in response to accusations from State House that himself, Masangwi and Kaliati withdrew their support for Mutharika because they never got any business deals from the current administration.

Both Mulli, who is chairman of the influential Mulhako wa Alhomwe grouping, and Ngolongoliwa distanced themselves from Ngalande’s claims, saying they would never do that.

Although we could not independently verify Ngalande’s claims that Mulli was paid K3 billion, Mulli declined to comment when we attempted to get answers from him.

“Just write whatever they are telling you but I will not comment on this issue. Even if they are accusing me, I cannot comment; perhaps write me a questionnaire,” he said.

But when we asked him for his email address or that we send the questionnaire using his WhatsApp number, he changed his mind and said: “I have already answered you.”

On his part, Ngolongoliwa described Ngalande’s claims as “stupid”.

“This is stupid. If they were doing it with Mulli, it should not concern me…I am government. I am a chief and I have my people and government [officials] find us in these positions,” he said.

The interview with Ngalande is another chapter in the book of what is going on in the ruling party.

It also exposed power politics in the party in the wake of reports that the National Governing Council (NGC) has not met since 2013.

“Instead of the President calling for an NGC meeting to resolve this, we are surprised that he is letting Chief Ngolongoliwa and Mulli to come in and resolve this split…who does that?” Ngalande wondered.

Kaliati yesterday declined to comment when asked about the issue but, in an earlier interview last week, she remained resolute that she would not change her position.

Masangwi could not be reached for comment as his phone was out of reach.

Reports indicate that, since his decision to support Chilima, Masangwi has lost most of the government contracts he was handling.

The Chilima movement in the DPP has also split the rank and file of the party, including its support base in universities and colleges.

Chilima is yet to announce whether he is going to challenge his boss, who will be 80 years old next year but maintains that he is fit to contest in the 2019 elections.

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