Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali says he keeps his fingers crossed that President Joyce Banda will pick him as her running mate in the next year’s elections on ruling People’s Party (PP) ticket.
PP became the de facto ruling party following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012. President Banda appointed Kachali to the post of vice president when she ascended to the top post.
However, President Banda who is a candidate for PP in the presidential race would have to select a running mate who in turn would be her vice president beyond 2014.
There have been many questions on whether President Banda would retain Kachali or choose another person. Questions have been raised following the buttered image the Vice President has had following a public outcry against his order to transfer beds from Mponela Rural Hospital in the central region his northern region home of Mzimba where there was campaign for two parliamentary by-elections.
Kachali also courted controversy when he shot back to critics of President Banda’s numerous travels that the President does not go to their mother’s homes and there is no need for anyone to be complaining.
There were also fears of corrupt practices when he was serving as Minister of Health until President Banda took away that ministerial portfolio from him and cancelled all drug orders make during his tenure.
Asked when he was featured on Zodiak Broadcasting Services interview program Tiuzeni Zoona on Sunday on whether he thinks President Banda will pick him as her running mate, Kachali expressed the hope he will be but nonetheless said it was the President’s prerogative.
“The right to pick a running mate rests with the presidential candidate so it’s not up to me to say if I will be running mate or not,” said Kachali.
“All I know is that in 2014 PP is winning the elections hands-down,” said Kachali.
The interview host Pilirani Phiri further pinned Kachali to comment if he thinks he is the right material to be running mate.
He responded: “I am not the right person to answer that question. The presidential candidate is the one who decides who to pick.”
But put to him what he will do if President Banda decided to snub him and choose another vice presidential candidate, Kachali was non-committal to say his feeling to such a scenario waiting to” cross the bridge” first.
The Vice President also pointed out that he regrets the Mponela beds scandal, accepting whole responsibility as it happened when he was Minister of Health.
“I accept it happened when I was a minister of health,” he said. “It happened, lessons were learnt.”
Kachali’s decision to snatch beds in Mponela; leaving patients languishing on the floor, attracted protests from Mponela residents and several groups, including the Parliamentary Women Caucus.
Apart from Mponela Rural Hospital, with orders from Kachali, government also removed 12 beds from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and transferred them to Mzimba.
The beds were reportedly sent to Euthini Health Centre in Mzimba Central and the yet-to-be completed Edingeni Health Centre in Mzimba South West.
Kachali also made headlines for wrong reasons when he officially opened a multimillion telecentre at Lupaso on Karonga attacking critics of President Banda n frequent travels, saying: “As long as we are serving, we will never stop visiting you Malawians, anywhere where chiefs want us to go, we will be there.
“They say, ‘you are travelling excessively’; do we travel to your mothers’ homes? Aaah! The president is travelling too much. The president and her Vice are always together. Did you want them to be sitting in your mother and father’s homes? Do you want your mothers and fathers to be the ones travelling? Shame on you!”
Asked to comment on that, Kachali told the radio he apologized and unconditionally withdrew the unfortunate remarks, saying it is a closed chapter.