The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government on Friday turned the screws on Vice-President Saulos Chilima calling for his immediate resignation over strong criticism of government and subsequent resignation from the ruling party.
In a show of force, the DPP sent five senior ministers; Goodall Gondwe, Nichalous Dausi, Bright Msaka, Samuel Tembenu and Henry Mussa to respond to Chilima’s recent criticism of the government.
In a strong worded statement, signed by Information and Civic Education Minister Dausi, rebuked Chilima for, among others, criticising a government he is part of, failing to report alleged corrupt cases he has been citing and making voter rigging allegations.
The statement also accused Chilima of failing to implement the public service reforms when the portifolio fell under his ministry, and dismissed his campaign pledge that he will create one million job within the first year of his election as president.
Government accused Chilima of practicing opposition politics while serving in a government position; hence, called for his immediate resignation.
Reads part of the statement issued on Friday: “Government wishes to observe that the stand taken by Dr Saulos Chilima in resigning from the DPP and forming his own party or movement makes it not only untenable but also goes against the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
“From speech of Dr. Saulos Chilima and other people who spoke at Masintha [ground in Lilongwe], it is clear that the movement which is led by Dr Chilima is espousing policies that are opposed to those championed by the current Government led by Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, of which he is technically a member. Needless to say, that the activities he is undertaking are a mockery of the oath of office and the Constitution to which he swore to defend and uphold. ”
Chilima through his official spokesperson Pilirani Phiri on Friday declined to comment on the matter.
“We will not provide a comment to what they have said,” said Phiri.
Henry Chingaipe, a political analyst on Friday, questioned the move to call for the Vice President’s resignation, arguing the office is protected by the Constitution, describing the move as too much ado about nothing.
He said the Vice-President can only resign on his own accord and said absence of impeachment procedures mean the DPP cannot forcibly remove him.
“The question is, is what the ministers are saying having any merit, perhaps what is happening is politically untenable but the office is a constitutional office, what they are looking for is a political solution. It might address the immediate issue but not the long term problem,” Chingaipe said.
The fallout between Chilima and his boss Peter Mutharika follows the VPs announcement that he was leaving the ruling party and hinted on challenging for the presidency during next year’s elections.
During the week, the state trimmed drastically his security detail and the two sides have been at loggerheads trading accusations on corruption, among others.