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Malawi government shy on APM, Chilima relationship

Minister of Information Jappie Mhango and officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday gave conflicting information regarding the cancellation of a press conference where the two offices were scheduled to address the media on reports that President Peter Mutharika is sidelining his Vice, Saulos Chilima.

Both Mhango and Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda were expected to address the media in Lilongwe.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Quent Kalichero, while acknowledging that the briefing indeed was scheduled to take place at Capital Hill, said it was cancelled but was not able to divulge the reasons.

“I was just told by the Principal Secretary, Dalitso Kabambe, that the briefing had been cancelled. That’s all I can say,” said Kalichero in an interview yesterday afternoon.

However, Mhango whose Ministry sent out invitations to media houses for the briefing, expressed ignorance on the issue.

Said Mhango: “I am hearing about this from you. I am not aware that there was such a briefing. How can people organise such a press conference without the knowledge of my office,” queried Mhango.

But when it was put to him that the invitation came from his Ministry, Mhango insisted that he was not informed and, therefore, such a briefing could not take place.

A leaked press release from Foreign Affairs which was expected to be read out during the briefing states that “the responsibilities and domain of

Foreign Ministers world over lie in foreign and international relations, hence their constant presence in foreign–related engagements”.

Reads the statement in part: “It must be recalled that when President Peter Mutharika appointed a lean Cabinet, he consequently assigned specific mandates and portfolios to his office, and indeed that of the Vice President. In the case of the VP, he also doubles as Minister responsible for Disaster and Relief Management, National Public Events and Chairperson of the Civil Service Reform Commission.

“The Vice President is doing a commendable job in these portfolios which in themselves are quite demanding, especially considering the difficult situation the country is going through in the area of household food availability.”

Malawi News edition of 19- 25 December 2015 carried an article titled ‘APM faulted on VP Chilima’ in which Mutharika is being faulted on his tendency to delegate Cabinet ministers to official functions at the expense of Chilima.

In the article, Mhango is quoted as saying that Mutharika delegates line ministers to attend events related to their ministries.

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