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Tonse ‘intact’

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In a week of Sattar-inspired drama, Chilima acted his role when, on a day the nation had waited for hours to witness his rumoured arrest or interrogation, he emerged from his residence, spoke briefly, in proverbs, to UTM followers before driving off to a meeting of Tonse Alliance partners where a number of agreements have been made.

By Rebecca Chimjeka,

Deogratias Mmana &

Mandy Pondani

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Tonse Alliance partners have resolved to “remain intact”, amid anxiety that has been building following President Lazarus Chakwera’s suspension of delegated functions to Vice President Saulos Chilima over the Zuneth Sattar report.

That anxiety peaked Friday as rumours filtered through that the ACB would be “arresting” or “interrogating” Chilima at his residence in Lilongwe, a thing which never happened.

Those rumours came ahead of a Tonse Alliance partners meeting where sources have told us that they have agreed to stand together while improving a number of things in the alliance. These include communication between them, regular meetings and look at each other as equals.

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“The Tonse Alliance partners meeting has agreed to improve their relationship and also make sure to adhere to their manifesto, we are not disbanding because we have a country to run,” said a source who was at the meeting.

The source added that the meeting was amicable and everyone voiced their worries and concerns.

Meanwhile Petra President Kamuzu Chibambo, who is also spokesperson for the Tonse Alliance, confirmed that the meeting took place and that it ended at 8pm.

Chibambo however declined to disclose what was discussed during the meeting, saying he is expecting to issue a statement today.

“I am working on the statement which will be released tomorrow (today) “ Chibambo said

Earlier, followers of the UTM party, a Tonse Alliance partner, trooped to Chilima’s residence to give him moral support amid rumours that he was to be interrogated by the ACB.

As anxiety remains, analysts have described the current environment in the country relating to Chakwera and Chilima as potentially damaging.

And they have cautioned that the situation needs to be carefully managed so the nation can focus on development.

Political analyst Ernest Thindwa said while the current situation between Chakwera and Chilima could be seen to suggest that there have been flash points between them along the way, what is worse now is that what comes out to the public are professional differences.

“Whereas in previous cases [of clashes between president and vice president], differences were purely personal, the current case is about the integrity of the presidency.

“If it were not for the VP being suspected of being a player in Malawi’s seemingly huge corruption industry, the VP would not have made such a huge statement in political terms,” Thindwa said.

Thindwa was referring to a cryptic statement which Chilima made Friday.

When he emerged from his residence, he addressed the UTM followers that had gathered in his support. In his brief, clearly restrained remarks, he said he understood people’s concerns that he has been quiet.

He also reminded them that ahead of the elections in 2020, he had called upon the people to be humble.

Yesterday, he said that humility should not be taken for foolishness. He did not elaborate, but he told the supporters to be calm, amid the rumours, as he would speak on the current developments in due course.

He made that address while on his way to the State House to attend a Tonse Alliance meeting, the first of such kind after one year, which some quarters describe as potentially make-or-break for the alliance amid developments around the ACB report.

Mzuzu based political analyst George Phiri said the current developments feed further into rumours started about a year or so ago that all is now well between Chakwera and Chilima, although the two have refuted this.

On Thursday, just hours after the court had arrested former Police Inspector General George Kainja and another senior ranking police officer, Mwabi Kaluba, ACB ratcheted up the atmosphere when it announced it would be making four more arrests soon.

On Thursday, Chilima denied involvement in corrupt deals with Sattar and challenged the ACB to interrogate him.

Chilima broke away from the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and formed his UTM around 2018.

He joined the Tonse alliance led by Chakwera in the 2020 presidential election which was sanctioned by the court.

While serving as vice president to Bingu wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda was fired from DPP and she proceeded to form her own party, People’s Party.

Bingu also had a spat with his vice Cassim Chilumpha who answered alleged treason charges.

When Bingu died in 2012, Joyce Banda became president. But her relationship with her vice, Khumbo Kachali, turned sour in 2014 after she overlooked him as her running mate in the run up to the 2014 elections.

President Bakili Muluzi, who was Malawi’s first multiparty president serving from 1994 to 2004 had late Justin Malewezi as his vice. They got on well for nine years but in 2004, Malewezi resigned from the ruling United Democratic Front when Muluzi named Bingu as his successor.

Malawi’s constitution provides for a presidential system whereby the president is elected together with his vice through the ballot.

Section 80 subsection 4 of the country Constitution says: “The First Vice-President shall be elected concurrently with the President and the name of a candidate for the First Vice President shall appear on the same ballot paper as the name of the Presidential candidate who nominated him.”

The president is chosen through universal direct suffrage every 5 years. The president has the option of appointing a second vice president, who must be from a different party.

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