—cites serious allegations against him as reason
Malawi President Peter Mutharika’s long-time top aide, Ben Phiri, has resigned from his post of Special Adviser and Assistant to the President, saying he wants to pave the way for those accusing him of corruption to prove their case.
Phiri, who has been the President’s aide since 2007, said in an interview yesterday that two issues have prompted him to call it quits, among them corruption allegations and suggestions that he was manipulating and influencing Mutharika.
He said some critics were equating him to a ‘prime minister’ who called the shots behind the scenes.
Said Phiri: “Firstly, there are serious allegations of corruption against me. They say that I have K800 million which I got corruptly, that I bought 20 buses and that I have a number of houses in Area 47 [in Lilongwe]. They also say that I am extorting businesspersons of Asian origin and that I want to buy Mulli Brothers Limited property which MSB [Malawi Savings Bank] is advertising for sale. All over the world, when there are such allegations, what you do is to resign.”
He said at the time of the interview, mid-morning yesterday, Mutharika had not yet responded to his resignation letter dated May 25 2015.
Reads in part Phiri’s letter, which The Nation has seen: “It has been a very difficult decision to make, but I feel it will be of best interest [among] all parties concerned. As regards allegations of corrupt practices, I invite relevant investigations on any malpractice done to be followed so that justice should prevail.”
Phiri said he would now concentrate on his PhD dissertation and then see the way forward.
His resignation comes against a background of recent social media reports that some senior Cabinet ministers met the President and expressed their displeasure at his conduct.
The reports alleged that the ministers threatened to resign should Phiri continue serving Mutharika.
During yesterday’s interview, Phiri said he was aware of the allegations which, he maintained, contained no grain of truth.
Phiri has been working as Mutharika’s assistant since November 2007 when he (Mutharika) came to Malawi to serve in various capacities, including Cabinet portfolios.
Phiri’s resignation has also come at a time when several presidential assistants have left State House.
They include former ADC Lieutenant Colonel Fostino Gunda-Phiri, former press secretary Frederick Ndala and his deputy Timpuza Mwansambo, presidential secretary Hilda Chapola, personal assistant to the First Lady Philomena Kasambwe, deputy guard commander a Mr. Chikhungu and second deputy guard commander a Mr. Kabambe.
Mutharika rose to the presidency following his victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.