Minister of Energy Newton Kambala is being hanged in political wars that do not concern him. Or at least, he is being so pilloried simply because he is a member of UTM, one of the apparent targets in this fight.
And those executioners of his, and therefore of UTM, have found NOCMA Deputy CEO, Hellen Buluma, a very good ally.
To begin with, those that think that Buluma is in that position running DPP business are making a huge mistake. Buluma has used political patronage to survive in the job. Yes, she was appointed into that non-existent job by the DPP government just as was the case with her boss Gift Dulla who the new administration kicked out apparently because he was a political appointee of the DPP administration.
How Buluma could survive in the job when she was equally another appointee of the same authority that appointed Dulla is the question. But it should not be lost on anyone that she bought her stay. Here how she did it: As results of the July 2020 elections trickled in and signs pointed at an incoming Chakwera administration, Buluma was the first parastatal top official to publicly congratulate Chakwera for his victory through her Facebook page.
This was to the dismay of many Malawians who had known her to be DPP member where she had tried and lost when she contested for the position of Director of International Relations at the party’s convention in 2018 and where she had tried and lost as MP candidate in Nsanje in the May 2019 elections. This was her public action.
Her secret dealings with MCP may not be known by rank outsiders but there is no questions she must have been determined to secure her stay in an office into which she was politically appointed. However, the avalanche of WhatsApp text messages she or her accomplices have leaked these past two days do tell us about her connections to some powers that be in MCP.
The name of an MCP cabinet minister she is claimed to have a secret liaison with is being flown around. But for all that is known, Buluma is a married woman, reportedly to a lawyer. How she could “dear” and “hun” with a cabinet minister when she asked him for a number of a UN resident representative betrays where her biases lie. But why would she be aligned to MCP. In any case, in this ruling alliance, MCP calls the shots. And anyone who wants favour will align to it.
Simply put, Buluma is an agent of an MCP faction or authority, lover even, whose battle front is two-fold: first, a struggle with fellow MCP top dog over NOCMA oil contracts largesse; second a hit at UTM, in this case represented by its official Kambala, to prevent it from sticking its finger in the NOCMA oil contacts jar.
The saddest part of this is that President Lazarus Chakwera has been dragged in, apparently ill-advisedly by his aides including the advisor on strategy Chris Chaima who is on the opposite side fighting the authority that is working with Buluma.
Quite frankly, it does not look like the President had correct information when he, uncharacteristically accompanied by the Inspector General and Defence Force Commander just for a national address, laid into Buluma and recommended her sacking as acting CEO.
In his own words, he had made the directive because Malawians had told him that Buluma is involved in DPP activities. Buluma is not in that job doing DPP work. She ‘joined’ MCP so that she does not get sacked from her non-existent position.
She is doing the work of an MCP faction which is fighting another faction in MCP on the one hand and UTM on the other.
In that fight, Kambala is the sacrificial lamb, by virtue of his being the political head of NOCMA.