Vice President Saulos Chilima has come to the defence of his boss Peter Mutharika after the media reported that Mutharika is sidelining his second in command by not delegating him in place of his cabinet ministers.
A press statement issued by Press Officer in the Vice President’s office, Pilirani Phiri, says Chilima finds this allegation unfortunate and premised on hearsay intended to spread mischief and spark disaffection in the cordial relationship that the two enjoy.
To prove that all is rosy with Mutharika, Chilima has come with seven instances where he says the President has shown that he trusts his Vice and these date back to August, 2014 when he made his maiden trip as Vice President.
President Mutharika, Phiri states, delegated Chilima to Israel where he led Water and Agriculture experts on a fact-finding mission on how irrigation can be developed and fully utilised in Malawi.
In September of the same year Mutharika delegated the Vice President to represent Malawi at a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Double Troika Plus Two Summit in Pretoria, South Africa.
A month later Mutharika also delegated Chilima to represent the nation at the burial of Michael Chilufya Sata, the late president of Zambia.
And this year in March, the Vice President went to Singapore where he led a team of Public Sector Reforms officials to study how the Southeast Asian country has managed to implement her reforms, also sent by Mutharika.
Last month Mutharika assigned Chilima to travel to Tanzania to represent the people of Malawi at the inauguration of President-elect John Magufuli and a week later, he was sent to Washington DC in the US to attend the launch of the Leadership Council of Compact 2025.
“This was after the President had also approved that Dr. Chilima should serve in the council representing Malawi. As a result of this trip, it was impossible for the Vice President to travel to India where some ministers were delegated because they were already part of the same trip,” Phiri said in the release.
He added that above all, it would not have made any sense for austerity measures to have Chilima travel when Mutharika had cancelled the trip in order to save costs.
Phiri said locally, the Vice President is also delegated to numerous functions.
As one way of further showing that Chilima is in good books with Mutharika, Phiri said he was appointed to head one of the government’s flagship programmes, the Public Sector Reforms.
Phiri also said the Vice President is also Minister for Disaster Management Affairs as well as Minister for Public Events and that the two ministerial offices add more work on his menu especially now that he is leading efforts on disaster preparedness and resilience.
He said responsibilities given to the Vice President make him the busiest second in command in Malawi in recent years and his work requires that he be in office full time.
Phiri also said in the wake of the austerity measures which the President is championing, it is not economically prudent to expect the Vice President to be always delegated in the event that the President is not travelling.
“The logistics for the Vice President’s trip involves a lot and consumes more financial resources. The Vice President would like to appeal to the general public and other stakeholders to avoid sensationalising issues at the expense of the nation,” he said.
Malawi News reported last Saturday that Mutharika has been faulted for sidelining his Vice and quoted Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace as well as University of Malawi political analyst Mustapha Hussein who said this is a cause of concern.
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