By Kenson Bengo
There is something innately similar in the behaviour of State Vice President Saulos Chilima between now and in 2018 when he was Vice President of former President, Peter Mutharika, particularly during the time he was accused of undermining his boss owing to his burning ambition to become President of this country.
Malawians realized that Chilima was out to undermine President Peter Mutharika and the DPP government, his own government that time, when the Vice President started to speak with a forked tongue using ‘miyambi’ to communicate his messages almost at every function he was invited to attend and speak.
At one time, in May 2018, Chilima was invited by His Grace the late Archbishop Tarsizio Ziyaye of the Lilongwe Archdiocese to be guest of honour at a function in Ntchisi. When he rose to speak, Chilima started with a ‘mwambi’ saying “kusintha manga a nkhuku sikusosola nthenga koma kusintha Tambala”, or if you want to change the colour of a chicken you don’t remove its feathers but you change the cock.
This is when the people removed any lingering doubt that the kitchen was too hot for Chilima and that he needed to bolt. Chilima was covertly actually telling the people to change government by voting DPP out of power. This also meant that although he was still Vice President of the country, and a member of the DPP that time, he had already made up his mind to dump DPP.
From that moment, a series of events followed that culminated into Chilima’s resignation from DPP and the establishment of his party, the UTM.
All this time, Chilima’s speeches would not be complete without saying a ‘mwambi’ or two always often amid cheers rom his supporters and many people who were following him.
Today, it appears we are back into a familiar territory because the velocity of ‘miyambi’ coming from the Vice President’s mouth has been gathering pace. Every time Chilima has an opportunity to speak, especially at airports when he is going out or coming back into the country, he is more and more hinting about his 2025 presidential campagn, and also about the crumbling Tonse Alliance relationship through ‘miyambi’. This is exactly what he was doing in 2018 and 2019 when talking about his souring relationship with Peter Mutharika, and before dumping the DPP to form his own political party.
At Kamuzu International Airport recently, when he arrived from the US where President Lazarus Chakwera delegated him to attend the 2022 United Nations Economic and Social Council Summit, Chilima spoke through a ‘mwambi’ saying okazinga soya sadikira mbuliuli, or when your are frying soy beans you do not expect it to pop. He also said “munthu wa nzeru saotcha tchire lozungulira nyumba ngati alibe chimbudzi” , or you do not burn the bush around your house when you don’t have a toilet.
A few days ago when he arrived from Durban, South Africa where he attended a Global Conference on Elimination of Child Labour, Chilima also spoke using ‘mwambi’ saying “Nkhokwe saumbila mnyumba imavuta kutulutsa kubwalo”, or you do not make a granary in the house because it becomes hard to move it outside.
Before speaking, Chilima started by chiding his supporters for their failure to properly interpret the ‘miyambi’ that he has been dishing out in recent weeks, apparently referring to how the people are contextualizing his ‘miyambi’ to the current political tensions between UTM and MCP, and the relationship among Tonse Alliance partners.
So, many political commentators are asking as to whether Malawi is any better or will progress as a result of Chilima’s ‘miyambi’. They contend that it has been a long time since the Vice President started dishing out ‘miyambi’ but so far it appears there is no direct correlation between dishing out great ‘miyambi’ and the country’s social and economic development .
“We voted for Chilima based on his promises to the country, particularly on how the youths stood to benefit through the creation of 1 million jobs and businesses to generate wealth. Now, instead of working to implement his promises, the Vice President is busy polluting the air with ‘miyambi’. That is a big disappointment,” wrote one of Chilima’s supporters on her Facebook wall.
However, regardless of whether people are properly interpreting his ‘miyambi’ or not, those who are close to the Vice President and those that are familiar with his politics know that is how he acts when there is something cooking with his politics.
They know that Chilima does not stay long in any political relationship or agreement, and that is how he behaves when he is about to dump any agreement. That is also the reason people are concluding that he wants to move out of the Tonse Alliance to concentrate on promoting his 2025 presidential ticket.
This has been apparent in the recent past particularly with revelations that Chilima has been on a mission to enrich himself through receiving kickbacks from contractors as well as businessmen from the Indian community. Currently, the ACB is also investigating the source of funds that Chilima recently used to purchase 44 pick up trucks for his party – UTM.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author not necessarily of The Maravi Post or Editor