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Of Chilima’s insubordination, rebellion and lying to Malawians on UK private trip

By Katiwenge Chirambo

This past week we have witnessed three of the worst characters as displayed by none other than Vice President Saulos Chilima. That is rebellion, insubordination and openly lying to the nation. It all started a week before the 13th of October when graphic adverts of his “engagements” and addresses in the UK were being circulated on social media. On the 13th, a short press statement from the Vice President’s office was released stating that “VP CHILIMA OFF TO THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR A HOLIDAY AND PRIVATE ENGAGEMENTS”.

Chilima’s statement is dishonest, especially a claim that he is going on a “holiday”. He is lying when he states that he is going on private engagement.

Two days before his official statement, the Chatham House(UK) posted on their website that Malawian Vice President Chilima would be giving an address at an event scheduled for the 17th of October is titled – “Public Service, Accountability and Delivery in Malawi.”

It is clear from the notice that this is not “holiday”, but an illegal trip – especially when you work for the government as a Vice President. No country allows its officials to speak at international platforms about policy issues without authorisation. Chilima used the technicality of a “holiday” in order to leave the country to address these forums without authorisation.

To expose the “holiday” lie, the public nature of the engagements was seen on a circulated picture where Chilima, dressed in a black suit, is in a meeting with five unnamed gentlemen, four of whom were white. The UK MP, Lord Jack McConnel tweeted about the meeting – “Very strong analysis of current development in #Malawi from VP Chilima in London today. #agriculture #energy #corruption #capacity #trade #SDGs (UN Sustainable Development Goals) @ScotlandMalawi @GlobalGoalsUN”

Chilima is a Vice President of Malawi, not an analyst. He is a VP who reports to President Mutharika. He earns a salary paid for by Malawian taxpayers.

No person on “holiday”, in a formal suit and tie meetings, discusses issues of current developments in Malawi in areas of policy as mentioned by Lord McConnel in his tweet.

Exacerbating the lie by Chilima is his special assistant on economic affairs, Mr Milward Tobias, whom in his lame attempt to spin on an interview with the Nation Newspaper claims that Chilima is on holiday, but still in a position to deliver his keynote speech at the London event. He further says: “The private element comes in because he is on holiday, so some institutions have taken advantage of his presence to speak to them.”

Again, events of such stature do not work that way. Their planning takes place months in advance, with speeches of events being sent to the organisers long before the event commences. Chilima is delivering the “main address”, meaning that the event planned around him for a long time.

It is safe to say that there was no authority given to Chilima to go out and address the international community on issues of policy on behalf of Malawi. Only the head of State has that right or gives that privilege. Chilima openly lied to get out of the country to go and make this address. At the airport, besides the UTM dancing women, there was no government official, or official detail of government to see him off at the airport.

These are some of the questions that would be lingering in the minds of many Malawians about this strange trip:

• Can Malawi ever trust a person who lies in such a big way with any leadership responsibilities?

• What would Chilima be doing at the said engagements that required him to hide it with such a big lie? If it is honest, transparent activities, why lie?

• And whose views would he be representing at the speaking engagements, Malawi Government or his? When and where do you draw that line?

• Why did he lie to the nation that he is going on a holiday knowing very well that he is going to be addressing open public forums?

This trip raises more questions than answers. More than anything, this trip exposes Chilima as nothing but a rebellious man who has complete disregard for authority and disregard of the dignity and decorum the office of the Presidency should maintain.

Going out to speak, or represent your country internationally is a very serious matter, especially because there are diplomatic protocols that need to be observed. Chilima has committed gross insubordination ever seen in the history of Malawi. He has no authority to address the international community on behalf of Malawi. The book of Romans 13:1 tells us: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

If Chilima proceeds with his address on the 17th, he would be spitting in the faces of Malawian people. Potential ramifications are that he is likely to plunge this country into a diplomatic row, or bring it into disrepute, at most, plunge it into a Constitutional crisis. Chilima is rogue!

We are sometimes too quick to default to our political affiliations and positions as Malawians. But in this case, irrespective of the political affiliation we hold – we must reject this type of anarchy, and disobedient conduct by Chilima. He must be held to account! Malawi is not a banana republic.