By Penelope Paliani- Kamanga
LILONGWE - A fierce fight that had ensued between Malawi's President Peter Mutharika and friends of Vice President Saulos Chilima came to a temporary halt last Wednesday when the VP who was coaxed to stand as president on the ruling party ticket declared at a press conference he will not stand.
Chilima, 45, told the press that he will not even attend the convention or run for DPP presidency amid rising tension in the country two months after the former first lady Callista Mutharika endorsed him for presidency.
The VP said he would resign as a DPP member in due course and stated that there was so much corruption and mismanagement in government which had put Malawians on their knees.
He said there was a need for someone to take Malawians out of the predicament they are currently in.
He said he would tell Malawians soon what his next step would be.
Chilima's announcement comes just two weeks after a group calling itself Chilimaism movement conducted a press conference which was led by former cabinet minister and Mulanje West MP, Patricia Kaliati, where they endorsed the VP as their presidential candidate against President Mutharika whom they said has come of age and needs to retire from politics.
The rift between the two factions in the party had created hate speeches and ridicule to the extent that the president himself said he was going to deal with anyone who was against him, including those for Chilima Movement.
Former First Lady Callista Mutharika had said in an earlier interview that DPP members would force Chilima to contest in the 2019 elections.
Some senior DPP members, such as director of youths, Louis Ngalande, and legislators Bon Kalindo, Allan Ngumuya and Noel Masangwi have also come out in support of Callista.
Callista had said she had not discussed the issue with Chilima but claimed that members of the ruling DPP would force him to contest as a DPP presidential candidate.
But President Mutharika has declared himself torchbearer of the DPP during the 2019 elections, trashing those calling for him to leave the stage and in favour of Chilima, saying they wanted a weak candidate to give Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the presidency on a silver platter.
Callista Mutharika said recently that Mutharika, 79, would be too old to carry on as he would be 84 at the time of leaving office in 2024 if re-elected next year.
The President described those calling for him to leave the stage to young people as “Judas Iscariots” who do not wish him and the DPP well.
“There are some who want to destroy DPP. The MCP are running scared of DPP because they fear that if I will am candidate ndizawanyenya (I will defeat them). From 2012 when Bingu (wa Mutharika) died, the party had died but you and me continued with the party securing victory in 2014 and we will do it again in 2019,” said Mutharika.
“There are some Judas Iscariots who say they want to boot me out of the party. I am going nowhere, I will not go as people have said, I will stand come 2019, contest and win with a landslide,” he said.