When President Bingu WA Mutharika, suffered a cardiac arrest at age 78 and there were questions raised about whether Vice President Joyce Banda who had been an outcast In the DPP was the rightful heir and eventually she was sworn in as President, few Malawians gave Peter Mutharika a chance to win the elections that would follow two years later.
At that time Joyce Banda told various western media that she had not spoken to Bingu wa Mutharika for more than a year, so challenging the constitution, that said the vice-president takes over if the head of state is incapacitated or dies in office was the proper thing to do for the six that were later accused of treason by Joyce Banda.
Peter Mutharika brother of departed President Bingu WA Mutharika and also head of the Family declared 40-day mourning period to honor the life of Bingu their relation who was buried on Monday, April 23, on his Ndata Farm in Thyolo District, 19 days after his death.
The family decided to have its own mourning period despite President Joyce Banda declaring a 30-day period of national mourning which ended on May 7.
According to Mutharika family member, Charles Namondwe, their 40-day mourning period would run concurrently with the one declared by government.
“After the 30-day national mourning period, as a family we will continue mourning until we finish the 40-days we have set aside,” said Namondwe, who is direct cousin of late Mutharika.
During the mourning period Peter Mutharika watched many politicians who he thought were loyal to them run to Joyce Banda. No need to name names as many in Malawi know these politicians who will prostitute their loyalty to those in power. Out of respect to his brother he suffered all this in silence as many celebrated the death of brother who they thought was too autocratic.
Joyce Banda at the same time was receiving accolades from many people as the savior of the nation.
In July of 2012 Peter Mutharika declared himself candidate for the DPP Nomination. Mutharika made the declaration at his first rally in Thyolo district following the respectful mourning period for his brother Bingu WA Mutharika.
The crowds and the response at that Rally buoyed the confidence of Peter Mutharika. MaraviPost called the candidate after the rally and he was very excited at the reception he had received. He told the MaraviPost that shock waves from that very first rally had travelled and were felt by many would be political rivalries. The MaraviPost could tell that he was very confident of winning.
Peter, who after the death of his brother assumed the leadership mantle of the party, told the well patronized rally that his party will hold a convention soon to decide on who leads the DPP to 2014 polls.
He eventually went on to win the nomination after beating back the challenge from Chimunthu Banda at the convention.
During the campaign Peter Mutharika was challenged by well-spoken Reverend turned politician new comer Lazarus Chakwera who had a big following in the Central Region. He was also challenged by the incumbent President Joyce Banda who had the power of government behind her. She had learnt very well from Bingu and she pulled all stops to win the election on her own Merit.
The people of Malawi went to polls in a tripartite election held on 20th May, 2014, to elect the President, Members of Parliament and Members of the Local Government, Councillors.The President of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was elected President of the Republic of Malawi. His running mate Right Honorable Saulos Klaus Chilima was elected Vice President.
When the vote counting started and signs started showing that President Joyce Banda was going to come a distant third, she tried to declare the elections null and void. In the history of elections I dare say it is the very time a government in power accused the opposition candidate of rigging elections.
It was during those count and recount votes period that Peter Mutharika showed his mettle. The Malawi army was sent to his Lilongwe residence in trying to intimidate him. That did not work. MCP leadership started to use social Media to declare that they had won the elections. Through it all Peter Mutharika showed a steadiness that forced Joyce Banda to accept defeat.
Peter Mutharika was sworn in as Malawi’s president after the High Court rejected a request for a recount following allegations of vote-rigging. The leader of the Democratic Progressive Party Peter Mutharika urged the 11 other presidential candidates to “join me in rebuilding the country”. He did not show any bitterness.
President Mutharika has now been in power for seven months. He faces many problems some caused by cashgate, Refusal of donors to support 40% of the budget, a civil society agitating for a fight with the New President.
It is the resilience Peter Mutharika has shown since losing his brother UN expectedly that Peter Mutharika wins the first award presented by MaraviPost as Malawi’s Person of the year 2014.
Warning to detractors. You under-estimate APM at your own peril.
Video of inauguration of Peter Mutharika: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKxJpDCwZUs