By Linda Kwanjana
Vice President Saulosi Chilima has come out with guns blazing hinting to his supporters that the corruption allegations against are political.
This is the first time that Chilima has given a public address since he was mentioned by the UK’s National Crime Agency and this week Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has being one of those who corruptly received huge sums of money from businessman Zuneth Sattar.
Addressing party members who gathered at his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe, Friday afternoon, Chilima said he will substantially address his supporters next week but hinted that what is happening is like his partners in government are taking him for a fool.
“In 2020 we were saying let’s humble ourselves and we humbled ourselves and continued humbling ourselves. However, this humbleness sometimes translates into foolishness,” he said.
Chilima, while urging his supporters to remain calm and let “each one to do their job” he said on Monday he will inform them the day he would address them on the matter.
“I have been urged to talk but I have to ask that today I am going for a meeting, so let me go and do that,” said Chilima apparently refering to the Alliance meeting at Kamuzu Palace called by President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera.
Commenting on Chilima’s speech, a political and governance analyst has warned that it will be dangerous for Chilima to take the political route with his alleged corruption issues since it was apparent that this has nothing to do with Chakwera or his party.
“This is coming from the UK’s NCA and the ACB here. I have followed Martha Chizuma this far I don’t think she is someone who can allow herself to be used by the MCP or the President,” said the analyst who refused to be identified in the media.
He explained that although it is at different levels, so far it is clear that both Chilima and Chakwera are affected by NCA and ACB actions.
“To me Chakwera has lost big time because he has lost a Minister and trusted member of MCP in the north, he has lost advisors, a Police IG he trusted with the country’s internal security, he has lost his most trusted man at State House, the Chief of Staff. I don’t think all these could be happening just to get to Chilima as he is making his followers believe. Again I don’t think Chakwera can have all that influence especially on NCA in the UK,” he added.
Friday morning it was alleged that the ACB was planning to meet Chilima at his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe for interrogation over the matter.
The Vice President has since roped in former Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe to head his team of lawyers to help him navigate through the allegations.
As crowds of UTM supporters were arriving at the residence for moral support, Silungwe also arrived at the residence.
He confirmed that he was at the residence as Chilima’s legal counsel but when asked whether ACB will indeed be at the place he quickly said “No comment”.
Silungwe was accompanied by another lawyer George Mtchuka Mwale.
UTM Publicity Secretary Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo has since confirmed that they were expecting the ACB to interview Chilima Friday morning.
Mwenefumbo who earlier said the UTM would not comment on the matter, later told one of the local media outlets, that UTM supporters will not just watch while their leader is being humiliated to that magnitude.
UTM supporters converged at Chilima’s Area 43 residence as one way of showing him support following reports of the ACB visit.
The supporters hanged outside the residence chanting songs of support to the Vice President who is also President of the Party.
In the songs, the supporters were heard saying they will not let anything bad to happen to their President, they are also asking God to fight their battles while others shouted “okuba yemweyo ife tilibe pambuyo pake”.
President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera early this week announced that he has withheld all delegated duties to the office of the vice president following allegations that Chilima personally received huge sums of money from Zuneth Sattar to influence award of contracts to the Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Defence Force.
Sattar’s issue is being handled by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Chilima’s name first appeared in court documents in that country before the ACB also mentioned him in its report to President Chakwera.