Ben Phiri, the most powerful, most loyal and most trusted former aide of President Peter Mutharika, was last week spotted at a public function in Lilongwe where the Head of State was officially launching the construction of a National Cancer Centre.
As usual, smartly dressed, smelling power and money.
This was probably his first appearance since he was fired; oops, I meant he resigned as Mutharika’s aide.
His appearance at the public function also coincided with a crusade, dubbed ‘Bring back Ben Phiri at State House’, which some staff members at State House are championing in social media.
The reasons they are advancing as to why Phiri should return to State House are as vague as the crusaders themselves.
I also wonder whether it was a coincidence that the ‘Bring back Ben Phiri’ campaign started as soon as Mutharika’s closest ally, George Chaponda, was kicked out of the cabinet.
Well, I too spotted Phiri on state-controlled MBC TV during the function, listening attentively to the presidential speech.
What came to my mind immediately were questions: was he at the function so that he should be spotted by the President and be reappointed as presidential aide? Was he himself behind the ‘Bring back Ben Phiri’ campaign?
Well, the fact of the matter is that senior party officials, I mean top Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials are worried with the development; they do not want him back.
The officials are accusing him of allegedly hijacking most of the government appointments in favour of his relatives, friends and those connected to him both directly and indirectly.
They say he allegedly never shared the cake with his party friends soon after the election.
They said soon after the tripartite elections, he was elusive as he was allegedly busy filling government positions with his half-brothers, sisters, nephews, friends and friends of his friends.
This, I am told, forced the Vice-President of DPP Chaponda to brief Mutharika on the grievances from disgruntled senior party members.
Mutharika allegedly asked Phiri to resign and he did.
It is therefore interesting and surprising to hear the DPP cadets behind the ‘Bring back Ben Phiri’ campaign say if Phiri is not brought back, DPP is set for a crushing defeat during the 2019 tripartite elections. I doubt that can be true.
After all, Phiri is no larger than DPP.
There are DPP diehards out there who do the donkey party campaign job but are not recognised and rewarded.
Let Phiri get a life, let him accept that he is no longer needed in DPP, let him know that he has betrayed the trust of his friends in the ruling party.
If the allegations against him are true, then he is one of the people who have soiled the name of President Mutharika through nepotism; the stuffing of public offices with relations and friends.
Apart from nepotism, questions of how he managed to build the 28 or so up-market housing units in Area 49 in Lilongwe and how he bought some government houses from Ministry of Lands at alleged low prices compared to market prices are yet to be answered.
Instead of answering these questions, he tendered his resignation and quickly left his top job.
I am sure DPP can do well with or without Phiri as it has done in the past one year.
DPP has suffered lots of image problems because of corrupt senior members, some of whom are under the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) probe.
We all know that ACB is probing some suspect corrupt DPP leaders; it is now high time DPP shaded off this image.
Two weeks ago, I published names of cabinet ministers who have wives, children and relations in Malawi missions abroad.
These issues dent the image of the President and the government. It is time to move on, leave corrupt and liability people behind and move on with people with a vision for a better Malawi.
People who want to please their own stomachs and pockets only should be left behind.
The country is sinking; the government is failing to fix the ailing economy which has been on sickbed for years now with no prospect of recovering any time soon, the cost of life is escalating by day.
This is so because Mutharika is surrounded by people who have no welfare of ordinary people at heart.
He is surrounded by people who have the welfare of their own, the welfare of their wives, the welfare of their children and the welfare of their brothers, sisters and friends first.
President Mutharika should ensure that DPP is a public institution; it is not a money spinner for a few selfish individuals who want to cling to it for selfish reasons.
If ACB removed its blue-tinted spectacles and investigated senior officials of the party, Mutharika would be alarmed how much his right-hand people have amassed personal wealth within the two years DPP has been in power.
In contrast, an ordinary person is struggling to have three meals on his table a day. Songs of eating balanced diet played on airwaves are just an insult to the weary ordinary hard-working person.
Some of the loyalty President Mutharika’s aides portray is just a tactic to remain long in the positions so that they steal more.
There are DPP officials who have brought Escom to its knees through dubious contracts and dubious payments, there are DPP officials who force Lilongwe Water Board and Macra to give “donations” to the party, yet in democracy there is a red line between party and government business.
Therefore, I suggest that Mutharika should hire the best cream from the population as aides instead of hand-clappers and those with interest to fleece the public purse.
To Phiri, I say you have been a very loyal and most trusted aide for the President for many years.
You were the President’s face, you were the President’s ears and you were his eyes.
You were there for Mutharika in happy and sad times but time now dictates you leave him alone!