By Serah Makondetsa:
President Peter Mutharika Friday surprised some of his own DPP members when he picked a less popular and less visible Member of Parliament (MP) for Ntcheu North East and Cabinet minister Everton Chimulilenji as his running mate in May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Justifying his choice Mutharika, described Chimulilenji, Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, as someone who is mature and understands the roles of a vice-president of a country.
“I have chosen Everton Chimulilenji, who comes from Ntcheu and is a Cabinet minister, a man of high integrity, wise, loyal, mature and a team player. He understands the difference between a vice-president and a deputy president.
“A deputy is sometimes assisting the president where as a vice-president is always delegated. He understands that there can only be one president at a time. There will never be a co-president,” he said.
Walking into a jam-packed Comesa Hall Friday, Mutharika, in blue-dominated clothes that match well with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) colours, walked side by side with Chimulilenji while supporters of the party chanted a dad a dad!!!
Earlier on, it was reported that there was tension and divisions in the party because of disagreements among its top leadership as to have the control of the party in the presence of the big gurus who have been expecting the positon for some time. Mutharika has possibly chosen Chimulilenji to find someone who was going to divide Saulos Chilima’s support in Ntcheu,” Phiri said.
Hussein said this is a strategy for DPP to divide the Central Region vote.
“The point is to accumulate votes from the Centre because DPP is known to be strong in the Southern Region, this is a demonstration that DPP would want to win more votes from the centre. We will wait and see because there are also presidential candidates in the center and they probably want to split the votes in the centre and amass votes in the Southern Region,” Hussein said.
Mutharika said Chimulilenji has served in various positions in the party and in two ministerial positions.
“He once served as district governor for Ntcheu, he has been in the National Governing Council as the party’s campaign director. He worked as deputy of minister of Defence and he performed well in a very difficult and sensitive ministry.
“Because of his work, I decided to promote him. He has been with us for many years. He was with DPP for the difficult years. He never faltered. I believe he will be a great vice-president and help me run the government for the next five years. Congratulations Mr vice-president,” he said.
Mutharika alongside five other aspiring presidential candidates were the last to present their nomination papers.
Smart Swira and Damiano Ganiza, independent candidates, were rejected by Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) because they did not meet the requirement of K2 million nomination fees, required number of nominees across the country and a running mate.
Another independent candidate, Reverend Kaliya unveiled Mabvuto Alfred N’gona as his running mate. Leader of National Salvation Front Loudon Malingamoyo Phiri picked Ethel Vivian Makoko as his running mate.
Mec has since announced that it will certify the eligibility of all nomination papers in the next seven days.
President Mutharika had fallout with his Vice Chilima, who quit DPP to lead UTM, with the President accusing the Veep of being power hungry. Chilima is contesting as president of UTM in the coming elections.
According to Mec, 24 nomination papers were collected by hopefuls but only 10 submitted while three aspirants were deferred for failing to meet fulfill the requirements.
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