Vice-President Saulos Chilima Tuesday received a rousing welcome from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters in his home district of Ntcheu but conspicuously missing were top district members and Members of Parliament (MPs).
This happened when Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Shi Ting Wang, was officially handing over a donation of 3,270 tonnes of rice for distribution to food-insecure households in the country.
Chilima received the donation, on behalf of the government, in his capacity as Minister of Disaster Management Affairs.
Hundreds of DPP supporters and dancers thronged and formed lines along the M1 Road and an earth road leading to the warehouse. Clad in party regalia, they sang and danced in praise of the Veep.
In Chichewa and Ngoni languages, they sang in praise of what they described as Chilima’s leadership skills and capabilities.
“Adadi abwera! Kuti wawawa! Adadi abwera! Kuti wawawa! Adadi abwera! Kuti wawawa! Zivute zitani ife ana a…tiri pambuyo pa Chilima [Our father has come! Come rain or sunshine, we are behind Chilima],” the
supporters sang while spotting DPP T-shirts, caps and fabrics (zitenje).
But, apparently, some senior party officials were not comfortable with the welcome and songs composed for the Veep and boycotted the event.
This comes after former first lady, Callista Mutharika, last week endorsed Chilima as presidential candidate for DPP in the May 21 2019 elections, snubbing President Peter Mutharika in the process.
MP for Ntcheu West, where the function took place, Mwai Kamuyambeni, boycotted the event. He justified the decision, saying he was not invited to the event.
“This is my constituency but I was not told. So, how does someone expect me to attend [a meeting I had no information on]?” he queried.
Julius Paipi, another senior official in the district, had an excuse when The Daily Times phoned him to know why he ignored the Vice President.
“The time the function was happening, I was not around. I left the country last week, immediately after the President’s [Mutharika’s] function [at Zomba-Pilimiti]. As we speak, I am at the border; I am just arriving from South Africa. I don’t know anything about this issue,” Paipi said.
Damson Chimalila, legislator for Ntcheu South Constituency— who is also DPP district governor— said he failed to attend the event because he was not feeling well.
“I did not make it to the function because I am sick. I got communication about the function but I could not make it to the event [and] I failed to delegate someone as it was a problem that cropped up at the last minute,” he said
As the drama was obtaining, the President’s longtime aide, Ben Phiri, was holding a briefing in Lilongwe where he told journalists that all party members are behind Mutharika’s candidature.
This is happening against the background of a reported deepening of divisions in the DPP politburo following Callista’s assertion that the Veep is better placed to steer the country to prosperity than her in-law, the President.
At the function that DPP senior officials boycotted, Shi Ting said the donation demonstrates the commitment of the Chinese Government in complementing Malawi’s efforts to alleviate suffering among food-insecure families.
He assured that his government would give more aid to the country in the coming years.
“China is a true friend, a sincere partner and a good brother to Malawi. Malawi will face a difficult year in 2018. I, therefore, appeal to all development partners and other countries to do what they can to help Malawi out of the difficulties,” Shi Ting said.