Chilima says he’s absconding work

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Malawi Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima has revealed that he has been absconding work for over 5 months.

Chilima told BBC HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi that he is drawing his salary for doing “absolutely nothing” when he was asked he was discharging his duties as vice president.

He further mentioned not meeting the President since June after forming United Transformation Party (UTM) currently being headed by  Chilima.

He told the presenter that he currently draws his salary. When quizzed as to why he was pocketing the money for doing nothing, Chilima took a defensive position.

“What I’m saying is the office is there, the office has not been vacated. I am still in that office and therefore I’m available to provide counsel to respond to inquiries by citizens and respond to inquiries by different organizations as they come. So that is meetings and also there is guidance and administration provided in that office” said Chilima.

Here is a short transcript, in verbatim, drawn from the interview.

Zeinab Badawi (ZB): You want to exercise your constitutional rights, are you also exercising and discharging your duties right now as vice president?

Saulos Klaus Chilima (SKC): Well, the vice president’s office is a delegated office constitutionally. So as I seat here and when I get back home I used to go to the office, a report for duties and because there is office of the vice president that needs to be run by a team of supporting technocrats and headed by an individual, I am still in that office.

ZB: Do you have meetings with President Mutharika?
SKC: Not after June.

ZB: Nothing to do in which is when you left the ruling party?
SKC: Absolutely.

ZB: Do you meet any of the cabinet ministers?
SKC: Ah, um, Not officially. Um, except when we attend functions together. Sometimes it could be a cultural event or church functions. And uh, when you meet, you say hello because we worked together before.

ZB: But you’re still drawing your salary as vice president even though clearly you’re not discharging your duties?
SKC: Well, I am, but uh, like I said

ZB: But you said you haven’t met the president since June
SKC: No, I haven’t met him. Not, at all. But what I’m saying is the office is there, the office has not been vacated. I am still in that office and therefore I’m available to provide counsel to respond to inquiries by citizens and respond to inquiries by different organizations as they come. So that is meetings and also there is guidance and administration provided in that office.

ZB: But you know, the suspicion about why you’ve not left the government in order to just get it. Just give you an example about some of the things that being said online by Malawians:
_Nambewe_ says, why is Mr Chilima not resigning to assure us he really wants change. He’s using the Malawian tax money under the guise of vice president to fund his own party.

ZB: Is that not corruption? Because you set up your own party in July?
_Yona_ says, if I were in his position, I would publicly apologize to Malawians that I am part of that failure.

ZB: You’re in a very difficult position accept that.

SKC: Well, maybe yes, maybe. No. Look, I don’t think that, um, it is entirely correct to say that I am using government money to support, uh, the UTM activities. That’s not correct.

ZB: That’s your new party that you’ve set up in July. The United Transformation Movement.
SKC: It’s a misrepresentation to say that we were using taxpayer’s money to run our activities because it is not taxpayers’ money.

ZB: But you taking the taxpayer’s money with your salary
SKC: The salary is there. I have, I have, I have a contract which runs up to May 2019

ZB: Which is when the elections are due?
SKC: When elections are due, number one. Number two is there is the security detail that is provided by the state, because I am still the state vice president.

ZB: Has President Muthriak asked you to go.
SKC: No, he hasn’t

ZB: But it is odd because it looks. Some three cabinet ministers say it’s difficult to understand or accept how Saulos Chilima can effectively discharge his constitutional responsibility of advising the president or assuming collective cabinet responsibility when he has clearly taken a stand that is opposed to and challenges the policies of the current government.

SKC: What, again, thats strange. Um, I don’t think that the policy of the government is to promote corruption. That what we’re fighting against and speaking against corruption, speaking against nepotism is actually not quite speaking against, uh, you know, a government. It is a government policy rather, it is speaking against the evils. So I would disagree with any assertions to the effect that, uh, I am speaking against government policy. It is not government policy to promote corruption.

ZB: But you’re not obviously part of collective responsibility. I mean, do you feel uncomfortable yourself saying I’m vice president, but actually President Mutharika I have left your party. I’m going to stand against you in elections next year. Oh, but oh yes. I’m ready to report for duties with you sir.

SKC: Well, I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. Like I said, the office is there and I go there and I still work.

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