Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima (SKC) has finally addressed what was until Wednesday the elephant in the room— future political plans—but he has left a lot of unsatisfied Malawians in his wake.
Expectations were high from the Vice-President press briefing, most of which were unrealistic considering that this was the first time that he had spoken out, save for a few misinterpreted remarks at events completely unrelated to politics.
For instance, it was impractical for SKC to heed calls for him to challenge President Peter Mutharika at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) convention when only a handful of the members of the movement were eligible delegates at the convention.
As the veep has said, it should not be ignored that DPP is a party rooted in nepotism with Chilima deemed an outsider just because he originates from Ntcheu and was not there in February 2005 when the party was being formed.
It was not surprising for Chilima to confirm what Malawians have always known about the relationship between the President and his deputy. Those that muddy the water for selfish reasons are well known and their actions are not a secret.
Since 2015 when the Lomwe belt held on the government and the party was threatened with the secrecy surrounding APM’s illness while he was at the United Nations General Assembly, there has been distrust of Chilima in the Lomwe belt clique in the party.
It would be folly of DPP to be in its usual myopic self to take Chilima’s words at face value and launch an attack on the Chilima Movement. From the statement, SKC is not done and the movement members have sensed this, perhaps they had even seen the script from the beginning.
But with the address, SKC has taken the heat off the Chilima Movement because the risk to the personal and professional well-being of the members was reaching unmanageable proportions: What with a whole president threatening to arrest and prosecute the individuals for stating the obvious.
Those listening must have expected Chilima to hit back, perhaps to wave his arms around threatening to come down on people that he rules over like a tonne of bricks. Those people must have forgotten that Chilima is not a Mutharika.
Expectations were certainly high that he would name and shame the corrupt fat cats in the DPP government, and this was a legitimate expectation after all it is politics.
However, Chilima has shown that he is not a populist and knowing full well the backlash that would come from sounding aloof and arrogant. He spoke indirectly to those calling for him to contest as president to put the vision for the country first before identifying a leader.
The statement has left a lot of things unsaid and whether it is a strategy by the Chilima camp, but what was not said has left the DPP confused.
The move to leave the DPP and essentially the decision on the candidature for 2019 settled will have the ruling party going back to the drawing board. Perhaps that was exactly the point for Chilima not making his real intentions known.
What happens to those flyers that DPP cadets and the party strategists had developed in an effort to portray a picture of a united DPP willing to embrace SKC in the role of runningmate?
There were so many issues that remain unaddressed in the address to the nation and all of them crucial.
Indicating whether he will contest outside of the DPP would have been premature and would have brought more questions than answers: Under which political party? Is he forming his own? Will he contest as an independent candidate?
Chilima has given a hint of what his vision, if at all he runs will be and those who genuinely support his transformational leadership views heard him loud and clear.