Mist surrounds Ben Phiri’s resignation
At least 10 days after disclosing to The Daily Times that State House had rejected President Peter Mutharika’s top aide Ben Phiri’s resignation, Director of State Residences Peter Mukitho has said he never saw any letter to the effect that Phiri wanted to quit.
Mukhito told The Daily Times of May 28, 2015 that Phiri’s letter had been rejected because it contained administrative errors where it indicated that the President’s special assistant intended to quit the State House job on June 1, 2105.
Said Mukhito: “He (Phiri) has been given back the letter. Ben Phiri is on a three-year contract and if indeed he is serious about resigning, then let him write another letter without errors. We cannot accept such a letter and I don’t think such a letter can be accepted anywhere.”
But in a follow-up interview on Saturday, Mukhito said as far as he was concerned, Phiri had never resigned because he had not seen any letter spelling out such an intention.
When pressed to explain why he had earlier disclosed that Phiri’s resignation letter had been sent back because it contained administrative errors, the Director of State Residences said his judgement was based on media reports that indicated Phiri would resign in 2105.
“Otherwise, I am not supposed to comment on something that is not official. The media carried stories that [Phiri] had resigned and my comment was based on that. But I believe that the letter was sent back within the system,” said Mukhito.
“I never saw the so-called resignation letter, but you know in every establishment there are different levels where something can be scrutinised before it perhaps reaches the final end,” he added before cutting the line.
When we tried to seek the current status of his position following the resignation letter which he had written, Phiri said State House was better-placed to comment on the matter.
But in an earlier interview in which he confirmed that he was the author of the resignation communication, the President’s top aide described as very minor the so-called administrative error in the letter.
He had also earlier disclosed that he had submitted the letter to the President, but Presidential Press Secretary Gerald Viola maintained in an interview on Saturday that as far as the Office of the President is concerned, Phiri never resigned.
“This is what I have been saying all this time. He is working; he has always been reporting for duties. So, in the first place, there was no such thing as [Phiri] having resigned,” said Viola.
When news went viral that he had resigned, Phiri himself confirmed the development with different media houses, arguing his decision was aimed at paving the way for those accusing him of amassing wealth illegally to prove their case.
Observers described the President’s special assistant’s professed resignation as a political stunt simply aimed at testing the waters on how he is rated within the Peter Mutharika administration.
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