Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Enough of his politicking! Peter Mutharika must leave Malawi & DPP alone!

On March 11, 2023, Arthur Peter Mutharika, or ‘APM’ as he is referred to by his admirers was the Guest of Honour at the DPP’s ‘Blue Night’ gala at Sunbird Mount Soche, a hotel in Blantyre. He gave a speech, outlining why the DPP must be voted back to power in 2025. He signaled he was the right person to become the next President or at least his anointed successor.
However, APM must realize that Malawians have had enough of his unending political ambitions. He needs to step aside and retire from active politics to give Malawians and the DPP some breath of fresh air after his defeat at the 23 June 2020 fresh presidential election.
At the DPP dinner and dance gala, APM ridiculed all that apportioned blame to him for the 2020 defeat, calling them “stupid”. He denied responsibility, pushing the blame to Saulos Chilima who he said had stolen the DPP votes when he joined forces with President Lazarus Chakwera.
It is absurd that the former President does not know that he was booted out of power because many Malawians were tired of the DPP regime’s worsening governance record. Under his presidency and the DPP regime, corruption, theft, tax evasion, money laundering and murders of perceived enemies of the regime was the order of the day. Under his regime, there was systematic looting of public coffers. Members of his regime bought themselves and concubines posh cars and built themselves posh mansions at the expense of Malawians.
Peter Mutharika is considered arguably the worst President that Malawi ever had. He is famous for being aloof and disconnected from the common Malawian. His oratory skills leave a lot to be desired, which many Malawians make fun of, particularly on social media platforms. With such negative attributes, it remains a mystery how Peter Mutharika won the 2014 presidential election.
Peter Mutharika’s defeat in 2020 posed serious image fallout to the DPP and the party required a serious image-cleansing exercise to stand any chance of winning future elections. Most DPP members have been agitating for the resignation of Peter Mutharika as the party’s leader to effectively deal with the image battering and rebrand the party in preparation for the next election in 2025.
But since he was shown the government exit door, Peter Mutharika has refused to step aside, claiming he never lost and that he was a victim of some “judicial coup” because the fresh election was sanctioned by the courts in connivance with now President of the Republic Chakwera and partners.
Whatever the precise intentions for clinging to the DPP leadership are, there is little doubt that Peter Mutharika is a spent political force. Now is the time that Peter Mutharika acknowledged the reality that politics is now beyond him and that the more he clings on to the DPP leadership and fight against his perceived enemies within the party, the more he risks further reputational damage.
Politics may be addictive, so they say. But being an elderly and educated person, as well as being a United States of America (USA) Green Card holder, Peter Mutharika should have been the first person to realize that leaving the political stage early enough would save him the embarrassment of being ‘forced’ out of politics.
So far, the Chakwera administration has been very lenient with the former President by not subjecting him to any serious criminal investigation despite many allegations of wrongdoing. It would, therefore, be a good judgment on the part of Peter Mutharika to quietly go into retirement rather than waging senseless fights against the new government.
Peter Mutharika should borrow a leaf from Bakili Muluzi who is happily enjoying life in retirement, without looking over his shoulders about politics. On 24 August 2021, Hakainde Hichilema became the seventh President of the Republic of Zambia. There was a smooth handover of power in Zambia and the outgoing President Edgar Chagwa Lungu immediately announced his retirement from politics. What else is APM looking in active politics at such an advanced age?
Clinging to the party presidency and banging tables in anger against perceived enemies within the DPP or against the country’s new leadership is not the best choice for an aging law professor who should instead be spending quality time with his grandchildren. Picking fights with President Chakwera and the current government is a waste of time and only serves to resurrect old memories of DPP’s misrule.
Peter Mutharika has no place in the current political space. He lost an election because Malawians did not want him to continue as Head of State. Today, the DPP is heavily divided because of APM’s lack of leadership skills. Peter Mutharika is now a recluse, shackled in Mangochi, very far away from the party’s southern region stronghold.
It is a general consensus among political pundits and analysts that the DPP is suffering its lowest moment right now regarding its political image because of APM. When the DPP lost government power, it required some fresh mind to spearhead a robust marketing campaign and to re-energize its grassroots structures in readiness for future elections and not Peter Mutharika who wants to manage party affairs by remote control.
Peter Mutharika is a failed leader who has brought divisions to the DPP. The party needs someone who can purify its systems; a unifying figure who will embrace all leaders and members, not someone like Peter Mutharika who supports certain individuals aspiring for top leadership positions in the party against others.
Indeed, it is a general consensus that the DPP must put its act together now if it wants to stand any chance of reclaiming its lost political glory. However, that can only happen if and when Peter Mutharika steps aside. He is a bad apple and his presence does not help the DPP to salvage the little sympathy that was left after 23 June, 2020.7
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