he late Bingu nearly succeeded in making the office of the vice-president almost irrelevant. When Cassim Chilumpha refused to follow him to the DPP after dumping the UDF, Bingu not only stripped him of all cabinet roles but also gave him no official assignment. He even attempted to choke him financially, remember Kaka famously said he was surviving on Fanta only?
Some people thought the President couldn’t effectively work with his deputy because he wasn’t his choice in the first place. One Bakili Muluzi paired the two. So the coming on the scene of Joyce Banda, his preferred choice, gave people hope that the working relationship between the President and his deputy would improve.
But the bungled succession plan made Bingu's relationship with Joyce Banda even worse than Bingu's relationship with Chilumpha. While attempts were made to constructively fire the vice-president, Kaka was pretty much left to his own devices. But Mrs. Banda wasn’t only demonised on state airwaves but there’s belief there were even physical attempts to eliminate her. Remember that mysterious accident in Lilongwe which no one is willing to explain up to now?
To show that he cared less for the office of the vice-president, his apologists told us this wacky yarn that even when Bingu was in Perth or Kowloon he was still in charge of affairs of state. It was therefore a breath of fresh air when the other day it was actually Vice-President Khumbo Kachali who made the momentous announcement that Malawi was no longer hosting the AU summit.
While such trust between the first and second citizens is healthy and most welcome, I note with concern that at most functions presided over by President Banda, Mr. Kachali is always present. Apart from being her deputy, Abiti entrusted Khumbo with running the ministry of health. Currently, the ministry is in a crisis with strikes here and there apart from the usual lack of resources.
Khumbo must not follow his boss wherever she goes. He has a lot of work on Capital Hill to waste time clapping hands for the President. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to have both the president and her deputy out of office at the same time. I know being "seen" is crucial in our politics. But I think the President would rather see results of her teams' work rather than seeing them sheepishly smiling at her jokes.
---©2012 The Maravi Post.