Being Vice-President of Malawi really is a thankless job as it has been observed in the past administrations. It is not a position that any politician should attempt to vie for but it is the express route to being president of the country, one day.
Unfortunately, history tells us that in the ruling party political circles, there are many who do not believe in the natural succession that should take place once a presidential term has come to an end or sadly, when unfortunate incidents of six years ago occur.
It happened with Justin Malewezi in the United Democratic Front (UDF), it was repeated when the imposed Cassim Chilumpha found himself Vice-President of a political party that did not elect him and Joyce Banda learnt the hard way when she dared voice her ambitions to take over from Bingu wa Mutharika.
The Constitution makes it so that the Veep really is not a deputy meaning that it is at the president’s prerogative to give him something to do which in the case of current Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima (SKC), who was appointed being Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs.
The palpable animosity between President Peter Mutharika and his deputy could be deemed to be a result of the mistakes that were made in the drafting of our Constitution 24 years ago but that is neither here or there.
This week, what many have been fearing and skirting around has come to pass. SKC is now in the unenviable position of having to make a decision that will put him in direct conflict with the leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and also the massive support that he has amassed since former member of Parliament (MP) Callista Mutharika opened the can of worms.
There are so many options open to SKC now and all come with pitfalls that, as a matured political playmaker, he should be able to successfully navigate. It is a dangerous field that the likes of Malewezi and Chilumpha failed at miserably and only nature intervened to make it easy for JB.
SKC will now have to know who his friends and enemies are because among the individuals who are coming out in support of his vying for the presidency at the DPP convention are opportunists who are jumping the DPP ship just to mislead him.
He has become surrounded by those who genuinely believe he would be a breath of fresh air to the 2019 elections and governance of this country, and those who believe the same but are positioning themselves for selfish reasons. These are the real ‘beasts of prey.’
But after all is said and done and to use an expression straight out of SKC’s favourite sport: ‘the ball is in his court.’
Callista has spoken and surprisingly but not really so, Ben Phiri has endorsed an APM/SKC partnership for his own selfish reasons. The DPP itself, including the women’s arm has also added its voice to the long overdue conversation that the former first lady has so graciously started.
Apart from remaining silent, SKC’s options are open and include but are not limited to either forming his political party or fight from within. However, it might be too late to form a party and hope to actually amass enough votes currently with the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), DPP and UDF.
If SKC lets this slide, the repercussions would not be mild. With such inaction, SKC risks losing the confidence that the people who have risked their political and professional reputations to back him even when he has not publicly made any declaration.
The ridiculous theories and political machinations coming out of the DPP that SKC would be better off contesting as a Member of Parliament (MP) is a narrative that he should not let pass.
The whole matter has reached the point that either SKC must shut it down now or join in and give people what they want: a decision. n