KONDWANI NANKHUMWA (KN): Apparently, it’s [Minister of Agriculture Joseph] Mwanamvekha, Patricia Kaliati, and… (tape inaudible) Lovemore Munlo. But the key players are Patricia Kaliati and Mwanamvekha. (tape inaudible)].
MS GREZELDER JEFFREY (GJ): (Clears throat), Boss, do you recall what I’ve been saying all along? As they say, it is the mentally disturbed who ended up alerting his people about an imminent war. Everything I have been saying all along is what is unfolding now. I’ve been saying this man has all the mise-en-place for his game sorted – they have been developing their networks for a long time, these people. They have been working underground. As I like saying, we deceive ourselves when we say “Sir, we have intelligence, we have intelligence,” intelligence, my foot! Here we are now – these people have found it so easy to permeate through all structures of government. I’ve been saying this. I’ve repeatedly said there is nothing [Vice President] Saulos Chilima does not know. At this juncture, there is no way he is turning back – he will launch his own campaign. I’ve been saying this all along. I’ve been saying even if the President were to sweet-talk him into changing his mind – it will be to no avail. And the State House boys, what they are saying – you know, I’ve always been curious – even back in the day when there were those rumours – Oh the president will reshuffle his cabinet, Oh, you, Ms Jeffrey, he’s considering giving you a ministerial post – you’d be alarmed to see that those plans were always leaked. From right there at the State House, right there in the cauldron where everything was being cooked, you’d see the secrets leaked. Lack of discipline. Sir, that young man is gone and will never look back. And the likes of [MP Noel] Masangwi will never look back. Only a few days ago, when he [Vice President Chilima] presided over a function, all these people were there, Kaliati, etc, they were all there, so even if . . .
KN: Maybe you’re not aware, but Ben Phiri went to see Masangwi. I have no idea how he operates. So Ben Phiri went to see Masangwi. He told Masangwi, ‘The President has sent me to you. He says he will appoint you to his cabinet – both you and Mrs Kaliati.’ And Masangwi told Ben off and said, ‘Let him dare to appoint us – we will humiliate him by declining the appointment. Right the next day we would hold a press conference to decline the appointment. We know the tactic – appoint us now to pacify us, then spit us out when it is convenient for the President.’
GJ: Therein lies the problem. In all probability the President did not send him on such a mission at all. Suppose the President has appointed Masangwi or Kaliati to his cabinet, how does he get to trust them, really? Wouldn’t they be peddling top secret information from the government to the other camp? There is no way the President could have confidence in them. He cannot work with them – and would be in perpetual fear. One becomes less constrained when feeling supremely confident that this person is on my side. But when I’m tainted – say, I was in the other camp – obviously you cannot have full confidence in me. Eish, boss . . . Like I said, when you come back, let us sit down so we can agree to whisper into the President’s ear. If it were left to me to decide, I would say let the President convene the National Governing Council. Let’s see if they will have the courage to say what they are now saying. And after that let’s have a convention. I can guarantee you that even if Chilima were to have the audacity of contesting against the President at the convention, there is no way he would win – never! He’ll hear it himself from the mouths of delegates from deep in the villages. If these people want to go, let them go in peace, without destroying our party in their wake. As you can see, they are wooing [Democratic Progressive Party] supporters. Who, from [the Malawi] Congress [Party] has joined their camp so far? They’re busy carving up the DPP – just like the boss said, that ‘You want to clear the way for MCP so that it can be shooed into government.’ But I will not allow that. And one more thing he [Saulos Chilima] said was, ‘When I met the President, we agreed that if he remains silent I too will remain silent, but surprisingly that day [at the airport] he spoke.’ I told him, ‘Look, there are times you speak because of the demands of the moment, but I’d advise that you two talk.’ He insisted, ‘I have no wish to be running mate, and even what you are proposing that I should contest at the convention – I’m not keen on that. I’d rather just be.’ He did not elaborate what he meant by “I’d rather just be” – though, being a politician, I understood the subtext. [I understood more of what he did not say than what he said.] I knew it was a way of telling me he was cutting himself loose to roam freely, with the Masangwis of this world in tow. . . But, like I already said, Callista [Mutharika] is not mentally disturbed. She was wife of the former president. Callista is a politician. [There is no way she can just say things without a solid ground to stand on.] She spoke after some preparatory groundwork by the conspirators. I even hear there was a meeting at Lingadzi [Hotel] the other day. Chilima’s entire camp was there. Even in the north they had a meeting. It’s clear that this pressure group is growing into a cancer that threatens to metastasize. All I can say is we just need to be bold. Let’s stand with the President and get our hands dirty. Let’s concentrate on building the groundwork.
KN: (Inaudible). I asked the boss: ‘Allow me to sort this out,’ but he said no.
GJ: I too am taken aback. About Mwanamvekha’s treachery I have never had any doubt and here is why: the Ministry of Agriculture, key as it is, we tried to tell him to let the party have opportunities to steal he would not allow us, no matter how much we insisted he refused, the only demographic he knows to please is his constituency – some of these things, boss, give me high blood pressure. Even [cabinet minister Henry] Mussa I question his loyalty.
GJ: Henry Mussa.
GJ: That man, mmh… Anyway, what you need to know is that Joyce Banda is running again – that’s South. Atupele [Austin Muluzi, Minister of Health] is also contesting – again, that’s in the same southern region. The aim of all this is to divide the southern vote – that’s all they want! On our part, let’s just be determined to do our job. We must even count it as good fortune that we’re encountering headwinds pretty early – giving us time to know who is for us and who is against us. Imagine if all this rebellion were to occur three or two months before the elections – I cannot imagine the mayhem that would have caused!
KN: (Inaudible) …. Parliament . . . My view is that in November there must be no Parliament…
GJ: You’re right – this must be the final Parliament sitting so that MPs must be starved of allowances. Let them not sit again so they should be short of cash. Imagine [Thyolo Thava MP Mary] Navicha rejecting someone from your own district! Even when that person is already in the hot seat of President!
KN: (Mumbles something inaudible)…There was a time when the President was considering a reshuffle… he wanted to include one of two Phalombe MPs, either [Phalombe North-east MP Dennis B.] Namachekecha or [Phalombe East MP Amos] Mailosi. I told him they were both OK. He seemed to settle for Namachekecha.
GJ: Oooh, I see. But then she [Mary Navicha] is letting some of us down. If I ever thought there was a lady the President could pick into his cabinet, it was her…. But have you been able to share all this stuff with the boss, I mean the President?
KN: About what, exactly?
GJ: About all these goings-on you’re telling me.
KN: The President called me around five o’clock. (Inaudible). Somehow he asked me to call him again around nine.
GJ: OK. I see. Call him and explain everything to him . . . But this Navicha lady is courting misfortune, really, just like Mpaweni. Just like that Mpaweni guy…. [trivia] But then, this week the President should just have gone ahead to reshuffle, because after this week he will not be able to reshuffle, since Parliament is sitting.
KN: But the President never listens to anyone. Now he wants to bring in Chitipa South MP, Werani Chilenga.
GJ: But can Chilenga get his hands dirty the way we would wish? Never! Yet no way can the President reshuffle while Parliament is sitting [which means we are stuck with these leeches for almost two months from now] I don’t think he can – maybe July August. But Chilenga and I – we chat very well. I know him, he is not childish, but still he cannot… Alright.
KN: Bye for now.