‘Power struggle at State House’
University of Malawi (Unima) political scientist Blessings Chinsinga has argued that the way government is handling the issue surrounding the resignation of President Peter Mutharika’s top aide, Ben Phiri, shows there is power crisis at State House.
Chinsinga has since urged authorities to resolve the issues that are apparently boiling at Malawi’s Plot Number One.
“If he wasn’t that powerful and important within the current political set-up, I don’t think government would have come in to say Ben Phiri hasn’t resigned. Ben Phiri is playing politics; he just wants to assess the extent regarding how he is rated.
“If you have followed people’s comments in the social media, they have been insinuating that he is very powerful and in some circles, he has been described as Malawi’s Prime Minister,” said Chinsinga in an interview yesterday.
He added that he is of the view that there is some kind of discomfort on the part of some key political players whom he argues have been probably trying to get Phiri.
“That’s why he has reached the extent of offering to resign,” Chinsinga said.
Despite Phiri himself having had resigned, Presidential Press Secretary Gerald Viola issued a statement in which he refuted the news that the President’s aide would step down on Monday next week.
The Dai l y Times Thursday reported that State House had rejected Phiri’s resignation on the premise that there were administrative errors in the resignation letter.
But Chinsinga says State House’s response on the matter shows signs of desperation albeit suggesting that the incident could be a blessing in disguise for government to resolve its crisis.
Said Chinsinga: “I think this will trigger some kind of discussion and probably that will lead to the resolution of the misunderstandings that have been there over the role of Ben Phiri.”
Phiri started working 2007 during the regime of former President, Bingu wa Mutharika, and has reportedly remained the President’s closest confidante ever since.
Commenting on the issue, another Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the events show that some government and party functionaries are not comfortable with Phiri.
“There’s a feeling that he has assumed so many powers than what he is supposed to have. One would suggest there’s pressure from both the President and other officers, perhaps in the interest of the office, stepping down would be in the best interest for him,” he said.
But Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Francis Kasaila said Phiri’s resignation had nothing to do with the party and ruled out any power struggle or any attempts to test the public’s reaction.
And in an interview yesterday, Viola insisted that Phiri had not resigned, saying his resignation could only be influenced by the working relationship between him and the head of state because he reports directly to the President.
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