Chilima’s loudest statement is what he did not say

It had been a long wait. But finally Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima (SKC) had to break the ice. And when he did, he left some people disappointed, some energised and other tongues wagging. All said there was more in what he did not expressly say than what he verbalised. Surely he will do something about it which it was not right to announce this week. The catchword is he is strategising. The Chilima Movement will snowball into something that will leave the DPP weaker.

The long and short of it is that SKC will leave the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Meaning he will not challenge President Peter Mutharika in his bid to be the DPP’s torch-bearer in next year’s elections.

That statement may have blown off some who waited with baited breath that the 46-year-old would go to the presser in Lilongwe on Wednesday to crystallise calls for him to stand on a DPP ticket. But his attack on vices in the APM administration is a symphony of how he intends to challenge the 79-year-old President whose in-law Callista Mutharika has declared is too old to win the presidency.

SKC is playing his cards well. It would have been foolhardy for him to think that he would win against APM at a DPP convention organised by pro-APM members who have called him and his supporters all sorts of names. These are people who have made it clear the pro-Chilima members would not attend the convention to embarrass their God-sent choice in APM.

By announcing he is bowing out of the DPP, SKC has prevented a blood bath in the DPP whose members are known to spare nothing whenever they have set their eyes on something.

That he would leave the DPP had been seen coming from his comments. SKC has on several occasions described the DPP administration as being riddled with corruption, nepotism and cronyism. How would anyone in his senses continue to be a bedfellow with people who are making no effort to fight these vices? Contrast that with what he described as his vision of Malawi—a country that promoted love, peace, unity, compassion, a country that knows no tribalism, nepotism and creed. A Malawi whose citizens would once again walk tall wherever they go because of the discipline and respect for authority, law and order, a Malawi that is corrupt-free, a haven for hard work and where its citizens will protect its assets. Almost declaring his manifesto.

Those in DPP who cowered from the agenda calling for transformational leadership, SKC described their silence and inaction as complicit in the plunder of this country’s wealth. These are all wise words which cannot come from someone without a strategy. He has seen it all and what remains now is to act. Which he has started with announcing that he is quitting DPP. After breaking free, he can ably implement his strategy which is likely to resonate well with the wishes of the people of Malawi.

His vision sits well with the public sector reform programme (PSRP) he ably championed and which propelled him to stardom before he was unceremoniously dropped as its lead figure because it was taking away the limelight from his boss.

Time may not be on his side as some commentators have rightly said. But one would think that SKC is also well aware of this. Besides, the political terrain is always bumpy. In politics, a day is a century. And who has all the time in politics anyway?

SKC is surely not a baby or a fool. He knows very well what he needs to do and how and when. He can see where he is going. What and how he will do next which he is keeping close to his chest is his biggest asset.

SKC said he did not want to be perceived fighting the party’s “own founders and owners.” This owners’ syndrome which has killed many a good party in Malawi is the cancer that will also send DPP to its early grave. With SKC out of the DPP, the party has lost an asset. And with his exit many will follow.

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