Chilima Was Shrewdest as a Serpent, He Told Us Would Not Run Against Chakwera – Claims Chakwera’s Son-in-Law and Personal Aide

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Chilima Dies in Plane Crash

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s personal aide and son-in-law, Sean Kampondeni, says the late Vice President Saulos Chilima was “shrewd as a serpent”. The claim has fuelled further allegations of suspected foul play in the veep’s untimely death. In a now-deleted Facebook post, Kampondeni, who also serves as a speechwriter for his father-in-law, alleged that Chilima had confided his decision not to contest the 2025 elections against Chakwera.

In his post titled “Day 13 of Mourning: Remembering SKC’s Shrewdness,” Kampondeni said Chilima’s leadership acumen could not be fully understood without considering his “shrewdness”.

“We cannot truly understand the depth of SKC’s leadership without reflecting on the shrewdness he skillfully and silently used to navigate the competing and contradicting interests in the complicated political terrain of Malawi, where religious, traditional, corporate, institutional, business, community, civil society, media, tribal, and diplomatic leaders all clandestinely push some political agenda that advances their parochial interests.”

Saulos Chilima Lazarus Chakwera Eisenhower Mkaka
Left to Right: Chilima (c) with Chakwera

Kampondeni claimed to have met Chilima just days before the tragic crash of the Malawi Defence Force Dornier jet in Chikangawa forest. During the said meeting, Kampondeni alleges that Chilima had revealed that he would not contest in 2025 against President Lazarus Chakwera. Shockingly, Kampondeni further claims Chilima had intended to spearhead Chakwera’s re-election campaign in 2025.

“The difficult discussions he was referring to had taken place in his study at home just six days prior. During that conversation, he had expressed his anxiety about the radicals in both MCP and UTM, whom he feared would oppose what he was planning to do in the 2025 elections, namely to be the person in charge of President Chakwera’s 2025 re-election campaign.”

Sean insists Chilima had claimed that “his mind was quite made up about it” of not standing in the 2025 presidential elections.

The post has been described as a blatant lie by several social commentators, with some reminding Kampondeni that Chilima, who had a lift with Chakwera prior to the vice president’s arrest for corruption connected to the Malawi army, was widely believed to have been arrested to deter his wishes of standing in 2025.

Soon after his arrest, Chilima indirectly implicated Chakwera as the decision maker being the Commander in Chief of the Malawi Army. Notably, Chilima had indirectly implicated Chakwera, the Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Army. Chilima insinuated that he did not have influence over the Malawi army and its tendering process compared to President Chakwera. He called for the removal of the immunity which people concluded was shielding Chakwera against a potential arrest for corruption on the said matter.

Charges against Chilima were eventually dropped in what people believed was an insider deal, that he would withdraw his wishes to stand against Chakwera in 2025. Ironically, Chilima died a few days after the charges against him were dropped, in a plane crash involving the Malawi army.

Chilima’s death occurred shortly after his exoneration, ironically in a plane crash involving the Malawi army. Former President Joyce Banda likened Chilima’s death to those of dissenters during the one-party era of the Malawi Congress Party, suggesting these were also orchestrated as accidents in forests.

The deletion of Kampondeni’s post has since ignited further controversy, with critics calling him a liar. Writing on Facebook, Sean Mateus challenged Kampondeni’s credibility, expressing disbelief that Chilima would confide in someone so closely aligned with Chakwera.

“Now let’s get this one thing clear: Sean Kampondeni is not an ordinary man of the pen. He has an elevated flow and excellent poise. He is blessed with resplendent intellect. There is a reason why his father-in-law ran the risk of being labelled a nepotist just so he could retain him in his fold. Guy is good. So, his capabilities are not in question.

“Rather, his honesty is. I mean, of all the people SKC had on call he chose to confide in someone who not only is an MCP hardliner but family to the very man SKC was plotting to seize the presidential crown from? That of all people SKC had worked with from UTM’s conception in 2018 to his presidential bid in 2019 this is the man SKC chose to confide in that he was not running for the presidency in 2025? Sean is capping big time. Or he is just high on something. Something like his sense of self-importance. Whatever it is it is certainly not good.

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima arrested on corruption charges
Saulos Chilima attending a court hearing on his corruption charges

“Chilima was not conflicted about running for the presidency in 2025. He had made up his mind that he was going to. There was no question about it. This ‘Chilima had two minds’ thing is Sean’s own creation. Chilima never told him that. Everything Sean said in that post is at odds with the spirit of shrewdness that he says was moving upon Chilima. If anything, it is this same spirit that would have told Chilima not to talk to Kampondeni about his 2025 plans because Kampondeni was not the right person to talk to about it.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I am calling Sean Tsanzo Kampondeni a liar. He lied about everything he said in that post. Whatever Sean’s ultimate mission is, selfish or otherwise, I am pretty sure that he can achieve it without soiling the dead man’s hard-earned legacy!”

There are several others who also suspect foul play in Chilima’s crash in the German-made Dornier plane belonging to the Malawi army. Calls for independent investigations are currently falling on deaf ears. Reports that the German government had offered to support the investigations could not be independently verified.

Malawi’s opposition Alliance For Democracy (AFORD), which is part of the ruling Tonse Alliance led by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), has called for the plane crash to be cordoned off and treated as a crime scene. However, these calls have also fallen on deaf ears.

Chakwera is accused of taking time to respond after he was informed that the plane flight had gone missing. Tips from villagers close to the crash site were also ignored, despite being made soon after the incident.

The initial search was called off soon after dusk before the decision was reversed following a public outcry. The site was only identified more than 24 hours after the incident. The lacklustre response from government authorities has also raised more eyebrows, especially among those who suspect foul play in Chilima’s death.

A common trait in politics across various countries in Africa is the assassination of political opponents or those with dissenting views.

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