PROF. Peter Arthur Mutharika isn’t your everyday college tutor. He is a constitutional law professor of note; no wonder not too long ago he was inducted into the International Commission of Jurists at a well-publicised ceremony in India.
This Commission is not
a darts or pool club; it comprises eminent jurists.
And Prof. Mutharika's eminence didn’t begin when his late brother was in State House. Peter was among the eminent minds that drafted, debated upon and finalised the current Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, adopted fully in 1995.
It baffles the mind, therefore, that Peter couldn’t sound the warning bells when the DPP politburo started holding late-night meetings in the wake of President Mutharika's sudden death. The aim of those meetings, as others have come out to reveal, was to usurp the constitutional order by upstaging the then Vice President Joyce Banda and install Peter himself in the executive office illegally.
We know that the DPP abhorred the scenario of handing over the reigns of power to the woman they came to distaste. Patricia Kaliati can be forgiven for confessing that Bingu's sudden death so confused the day lights out of many of them that they started behaving like headless chicken.
But for someone who eats, breaths and dreams 'the Constitution' the mere fact that he allowed such 'constitutional coup plots' to even take place is treason of the highest order. Once his big brother collapsed in his office on that fateful Thursday morning, Peter should’ve been the first one to alert the Chief Justice to do his constitutional duty and swear in the Vice President as acting President.
But Peter decided to sacrifice constitutional order on the alter of selfish ambitions. By so doing he has betrayed his fellow eminent jurists and himself. Those nocturnal meetings have dented his CV so irreparably that he has no moral authority to be near any constitutional office.
But, like many a Malawian politician in whose lexicon the word 'resign' doesn’t feature, Peter may as well cling on as leader of what is left of his late brother's now rag-tag political party. He may even one day live his brother's dream and become President of the Republic of Malawi. But if he couldn’t uphold the Constitution when he was a mere wannabe president, how sure are we that he will rise up to the occasion when it calls when he is President?
God save us!