Malawi: Coup plot or smear campaign within ruling party?

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A few weeks after Malawi ruler, Bingu wa Mutharika early December fired two senior party members — Vice President Joyce Banda and former minister Khumbo Kachali — from his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for “anti-party activities” new information on the actual reasons behind the action has emerged. Khumbo Kachali’s role in the affair is so far not clear.

The initial reason given for the dismissal of Banda and Kachali, who were first and second party deputy presidents, respectively, was because they failed to defend themselves on various accusations of “anti-party activities” within the DPP party.

However, it has since emerged that the two are accused of “planning to topple government for the Vice President, Joyce Banda,” say reports from Malawi.

Reports from Lilongwe (the capital) say Banda and politician-cum-businessman “Dr.” Sudi Adak Sulaimana were planning to overthrow the government. This time, Kachali’s name is not mentioned in the reports.

Sulaimana was arrested after being found with a military uniform.

“As our investigations continue, we have established that Sudi and the VP were planning big things. He wanted to attack a Reserve Bank of Malawi vehicle to get the money and then use the money for the plot to overthrow government. He would connive with some misguided police and army officers to achieve that plan,” the police officer is quoted saying.

But other media reports claim that the sacking of Banda “is a scheme to paralyze the vice president who has been fired from President Bingu wa Mutharika’s party over a row of succession plan.”

Joyce Banda, who was Mutharika’s surprise pick for a running-mate in the 2009 Presidential elections, is understood to have refused to endorse Mutharika’s brother as the party’s 2014 presidential candidate.

Police leaks

Police are said to have leaked a string of email communication between Banda and Sudi on the alleged coup plot. And according to reports Sudi wrote Banda on August 11, 2010, Wednesday at 05:57:51 under the heading “Keep Up the Spirit”:

“I have been carefully studying the situation and attentively listening to the main voices of the people both in the offices and on the streets that is in relation to the options available. I have become a bit scientific about it and this is my conclusion of the matter.

“First I want to quote for you what one Greek Philosopher said and it is very important and instrumental to our current situation and it provides a guide as to what should be done to come out with the best options, I quote: ‘There’s always what you think is right for you to do, and then there is what is what the public think is right for you to do and finally what is really right for you to do.’

“In politics however if one wants to be popular then it is to do what the public thinks is right for you to do. If you look around you will notice that most of the decisions government has made are very unpopular because they did what they thought is right and not what the public thinks is right…”

Banda responded, “I am of the view that timing will also be important. I do not know what your thoughts are on this issue. Sometimes you can lose it all by not timing yourself properly…”

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