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‘Sacrilege’ we should never allow

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There is a picture that was published in newspapers this week and trended very well on social media.

It depicts President Peter Mutharika and his deputy Saulos Chilima, attending the funeral of legendary soccer player, the late Jack Chamangwana.

The two are sitting close in the photo as they have always been at State functions, yet the body language shows that they are very far.

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They are both stern-faced and facing away from each other.

The photo is a physical depiction of the broken relationship between Mutharika and Chilima since former first lady Callista Mutharika pointed out the need for the President to pave the way for his vice as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer in next year’s elections.

This, Callista said, is based on the age of the President.

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We all thought naively that next in the DPP would be a healthy debate on the pros and cons of what Callista said and eventually the matter would be settled at a convention by the owners of the party, the rank and file.

Sadly, this is not the case as there is an all-out civil war in DPP caused by Hurricane Callista as the matter has since been referred to.

The latest battle in this DPP civil war was started by the President himself on arrival from the United KIngdom when he reiterated his stand that he would run for presidency next year under the DPP ticket, calling those who are saying he should step down as Judas Iscariots.

Then matters came to a head on Friday when the President delivered the State of Nation Address as he opened the budget session of Parliament.

DPP Cadets unleashed terror on those deemed anti-Mutharika such as Members of Parliament (MPs) Patricia Kaliati and Noel Masangwi.

The Cadets, dressed in black suits, even entered Parliament where they caused chaos, forcing the President to stop delivering the speech for at least 10 minutes and, after they were chucked out, they assaulted Times Group cameraman Douglas Banda for doing his job to film them.

In Blantyre on Friday, a car belonging to Mulanje South MP, Bon Kalindo was petro-bombed at his house in Machinjiri Township by people he believes are sympathisers of the DPP and that their action is connected to the fact that he supports Chilima to take over from Mutharika.

Then over the weekend, Malawians have been exchanging a recorded leaked conversation between Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa and DPP secretary general Gresselder wa Jeffrey gossiping about Chilima and ministers such as Joseph Mwanamvekha and Henry Mussa.

But the DPP conservative arm is getting it all wrong to think that it can use intimidation to force through the agenda that, no matter what, the President should be on the ballot next year.

When shall these thugs know that this country changed in 1992 and that Malawians, including Kaliati and others, are free to express themselves on the choice of their leaders, and that include President Peter Mutharika?

Where did those men in suits get the authority to stop bona fide MPs, sent to Parliament by their constituents, from entering the gates of the House?

MPs belong to Parliament as opposed to the hoodlums paid by irresponsible politicians to cause chaos.

They even had the audacity to enter the House and interrupt to the speech that Malawians were waiting for.

This was sacrilege—a sin against holy things—but happening at Parliament, our holy House where laws governing this nation are made.

The result is that the message that was contained in the speech was drowned in the hooliganism that was evident at Parliament that fateful day.

The centre cannot hold in DPP and the fulcrum around which the party must revolve, the President, has lost control and instead it is the people who are so desperate to make sure he runs for President next year for their own selfish intention that are in control of the party.

But, at the end of the day, it is his fault as he allowed to be misled on Chilima and now chickens are coming home to roast because, unlike former vice presidents who were treated shabbily and went away into hibernation, Chilima will not just walk away quietly.

The leaked conversation, for example, alleges that Ben Phiri told Masangwi that he would convince the President to put him and Kaliati into Cabinet.

Masangwi reportedly told Phiri off, threatening that the moment Mutharika appoints the duo to Cabinet, they will embarrass him by turning down the appointments at a press conference.

Unless the President regains control of the party, this is a disaster happening on his hands.

What is clear is that the Vice President is coming out with a position and the position is that he will be no push-over, unlike other vice presidents in the past but will carve out his political future out of the DPP.

The leaked conversation has clearly shown that there is fear and acceptance that Chilima is gone forever and with him he will take people such as Kaliati, Masangwi, Kalindo, Navitcha from the heart of DPP in Thyolo and Mulanje.

In the final analysis, we, Malawians, must not accept intimidation whose aim is to stifle democracy as we saw in Parliament on Friday last week.

We must reject it and never be afraid to claim our rights from those that want to violate them.

The conservative arm of the DPP and the President must accept they created a problem by treating Chilima shabbily and now the chickens are coming home to roast.

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