President Peter Mutharika has declared himself torchbearer of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) during the 2019 Tripartite Elections, trashing those calling for him to leave the stage and favours Vice President Saulos Chilima to represent DPP, saying they want a weak candidate to give Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the presidency on a silver platter.
Former first lady Callista Mutharika said recently that Mutharika, 79, would be too old to carry on as he would be 84 at the time of leaving office in 2024 if re-elected next year.
Callista, who is the President's sister- in-law, favours Chilima, 45, to represent DPP in 2019.
Some senior DPP members, such as director of youth Louis Ngalande and legislators Bon Kalindo, Allan Ngumuya and Noel Masangwi have also come out in support of Callista's sentiments.
But speaking on Saturday at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) on arrival from the United Kingdom where he had gone to attend a Commonwealth meeting in the presence of Chilima, the President described those calling for him to leave the stage to young people as "Judas Iscariots" who do not wish him and the DPP well.
"There some who want to destroy DPP, the MCP are running scared of DPP because they fear that if I will be candidate ndizawanyenya [I will defeat them]. From 2012 when Bingu [wa Mutharika] died the party had died but you and me continued with the party securing victory in 2014 and we will do it again in 2019," said Mutharika.
"There are some Judas Iscariots who say they want to boot me out of the party. I am going nowhere, I will not go as people have said, I will stand come 2019, contest and win with a landslide," he said.
He added: "These Judas Iscariots would like to give MCP the presidency on a silver platter. I will not allow that. That is why I say let us stop the betrayals, tiwanyenyanyenya, tiwapondaponda, tiwangonjetsa."
The President called on the members in his party "to stop the habit of betrayal and aim at working together to build the party".
DPP vice-president for the South George Chaponda is on record as saying President Mutharika will go unopposed at the party's convention and represent the party in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Finance and Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe also said running the President's office and government affairs is serious business that requires the old who have experience and not "babies" who are novices on State matters.
Ngalande has however wondered there are pronouncements on candidacy when DPP has not had a National Governinng Counci (NGC) meeting since 2013 where such issues could be discussed.
He asked President Mutharika to set the date of the convention, saying "self-declarations are not democratic."
But presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani dismissed accusations that the President was being dictatorial, saying there was nothing dictatorial about an individual announcing his or her availability for re-election.