Vice-President Saulos Chilima has accused President Peter Mutharika of making wild allegations of vote rigging, saying they are signs of are panicking and jitters that they are going to lose power as the country moves towards the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
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The Vice-President, who is also president of UTM Party registered after he severed ties with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last June, challenged Mutharika's claims that opposition parties have hired election rigging experts.
Speaking during an Imbizo tour in his home district of Ntcheu on Tuesday morning, Chilima assured Malawians that no one is going to rig the elections and urged them to go and vote in their large numbers.
"These remarks about people rigging the polls just shows that someone is panicking that he is going to lose the polls," said Chilima.
"Otherwise no one will rig these polls even Malawi Electoral Commission assured us that no one will rig the elections, " he added.
Chilima, a former private sector executive who rose to the position of Airtel Malawi managing director before quitting to partner Mutharika as running mate in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, said the DPP has engaged in "scare mongering" tactics but warned that he and the UTM Party will not be intimidated.
"They are hallucinating ehh mufuna mitible, ehh tikufinyani. Time is up, you will go by people's vote, izi zosiyilana," said Chilima.
Chilima, widely promoted by his initials SKC for Saulos Klaus Chilima, attacked Mutharika for presiding over corruption and nepotism.
This is the second time for Chilima to challenge President's recent rigging claims. In January when Mutharika made similar claims, he said in quotes reported by The Nation newspaper : "You [the President] say you know who is here to rig, you know the equipment is here for rigging and you know where the equipment is; and then you are doing nothing about it? As President, you could have sent police to arrest those involved... "
But presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said at that time Chilima "cannot tell the President what to do. The government machinery will pounce on the rigging plot when it is necessary".
Ironically, after being declared winner of the 2014 presidential race, Mutharika is on record to have dismissed his predecessor Joyce Banda's claims that the election was rigged, telling British Broadcasting Corporation on May 22 2014: "I don't see how an opposition party can rig elections."
Previously, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera the DPP manipulated the results of the 2014 Tripartite Elections which saw President Mutharika--with Chilima as running mate--winning by 36 percent. MCP's Chakwera finished second with 27 percent.
There are assertions that Chilima helped DPP rig 2014 elections and MCP had previously asked him to thoroughly explain what it called a 'truth' that Chakwera won.