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‘Saulos Chilima’s stance not surprising’

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Some political commentators have said Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s announcement that he is moving out of governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is not surprising, apparently because this has been the case since Malawi switched to multiparty democracy.

Chilima addressed the press at his office’s boardroom Wednesday, when he announced that he can no longer be part and parcel of the ruling DPP.

However, he did not specify his next course of action, except that he wants to associate with suffering Malawians.

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Mzuzu-based political analyst, Emily Mkamanga, said, although this move was expected, it has the potential of reducing DPP’s chances of winning the 2019 elections.

“In other words, the DPP is now divided more than ever before and this has the potential of giving other parties, especially the MCP [Malawi Congress Party], the opportunity to excel in next year’s Tripartite Elections,” Mkamanga said.

University of Malawi political analyst, Ernest Thindwa, said what is coming out of Chilima’s statement is that political parties are not accommodating dissenting views.

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He said Chilima has not been given democratic space in the ruling party.

Thindwa said the party is owned by few individuals who did not buy into Chilima’s agenda.

“Chilima feels frustrated; hence, he had no option but to dump the party,” he said.

Thindwa has said Chilima still has potential in Malawi politics, but that this would depend on whether his next move is to join another party or form his own party.

In her mediate reaction to the Vice-President’s move, Patricia Kaliati— who is one of Chilima’s supporters— said she was happy with Chilima’s decision.

She said the decision would protect those who have been supporting him from succumbing to premature death.

“What did you expect from a person who has been effectively sidelined by his own party? Imagine the bad behaviour and bitter fight that the President [Peter Mutharika] and his followers, who are controlling the party, have demonstrated ahead of convention,” Kaliati said.

She said it would be pointless for Mutharika to be holding rallies to be castigating those leaning towards the Vice-President

She, therefore, said the Chilima Movement is now preparing for the next move, hinting that the announcement on the next course of action would be made soon.

DPP publicity secretary, Francis Kasaila, was not available for comment by the time we went to press. Secretary general Grezeldar Jeffrey could not pick calls when we tried to get the party’s view on what Chilima said.

But Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, said what is important in Chilima’s statement is that he has cleared perceptions that he is not in good terms with Mutharika.

“The Vice-President has not said anything. [He has a] good relationship with the President. That is something Malawians are happy with. People thought they are on each other’s throat,” Dausi said.

He added that Chilima’s concern on corruption is something that everyone is concerned about and stressed that there is need to join hands in the fight against the vice.

“What I can get from him is that we should fight corruption together. This is extremely important,” Dausi said.

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