Speaking exclusively to Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s March edition of Talk to the President Program, President Mutharika said he even went further to directly and indirectly interview all the eight nominees, before settling for Chimulirenji.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential torch bearer disclosed that among others, he was looking for a bonafide member of his party, experience in government machinery and a team player.
“There were three things that I took into account,” said President Mutharika. “Firstly, I wanted somebody who is a bonafide DPP member. I wanted somebody who has grown in the party. Who is loyal to the party and a strong believer in the party principles, and who is a team player. Honourable Chimulirenji has been in the party since 2005. He has been district governor and has also worked at a regional level. At a convention, he was elected national Campaign Director. He is a party insider and he knows the party’s framework.
“Secondly, I wanted somebody who has experience in government: Honourable Chimulirenji has been in Parliament for ten years. We entered into parliament together in 2009. He was Deputy Minister of Defence- which is an extremely sensitive ministry. That’s a ministry I have chosen to keep [because of its sensitivity] and I have worked with him, and I have sent him on very sensitive missions in the country and outside the country and he has performed brilliantly. On the basis of that, I decided to promote him to Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development. I was reluctant to let him go because of his excellent performance in the ministry, but I thought he deserved to be promoted to a full cabinet minister.
“Thirdly, I was looking for somebody with integrity, who is committed as a team player and somebody who understands the role of a vice president – that there can only be one president and that a vice president is not and will never be a co-president. Honourable Chimulirenji understands that the position of a vice president is not a substantive- it is delegated. He has experience both in private and public sector. These are factors that I took into account so I don’t know why people keep on saying that it was a surprise,” said President Mutharika.
Meanwhile, President Mutharika said he is confident that the DPP top leaders have openly welcomed the choice of Chimulirenji if the last three massive rallies they have been organizing were anything to go by.