The manner in which President Peter Mutharika and the DPP clang to the spirit of Bingu for public sympathy and mandate to govern the country before the elections in 2014 should have warned and alerted us to one thing and one thing only: without invoking the spirit of Bingu, Arthur Peter Mutharika is an empty, agenda-less leader controlled by greedy lieutenants, and his DPP a direction-less party bent on self-enrichment and lacking in any original development ideas besides those of late Bingu’s. The truth of the matter is that the DPP has registered no achievements of its own except continuing a few projects that were set out in Bingu’s vision.
President Arthur Peter Mutharika and the DPP manipulated the nation to sympathise and extend them the mandate to govern because of the nostalgia and the respect of Peter’s late brother. With due respect to Bingu, this was a cheap trick by the DPP and it is only fitting that now the party’s failure to set any agenda for the nation except one of looting and corruption has been brutally exposed. The fact that the DPP thought Malawians are not clever enough to see through these petty tactics reveals that as a party, the DPP regards Malawians with contempt. It also explains why bad governance and failures of governmental integrity have been perpetuated with impunity in the DPP administration.
It is a fact that the current Mutharika and this DPP of today are yet to demonstrate to Malawians their leadership potential. Surely a solid four years in power is long enough a time for the younger (and I use the word “younger” in a only the contextual fashion here for 80 years of age is in fact past the sale by date for any one!) Mutharika to lay his own tracks and demonstrate that he has leadership qualities, and mark his difference from Bingu, showing that he was his own person after all? Back in 2014, there were accusations about this Mutharika that he is nothing like this brother. Those making the allegations presented evidence of his unimpressive records in previous government portfolios such as the Ministry of Education, which he presided during the unnecessarily protracted academic freedom debacle, and the Ministry of foreign affairs, where he left no mark of his presence whatsoever.
The notion that Bingu and Peter could be one and the same when it came to leadership was a DPP unilateral wet dream with which the party hoodwinked Malawians. Having worked with Bingu, I can say unequivocally that it was a cruel disrespect to the spirit of Bingu to compare him with the leadership failures that are evident in this brother of his.
The good thing is that I have evidence on my side here. After four years of bumbling, I believe all Malawians can now see the spinelessness with which Peter has taken to the leadership. President Peter Mutharika’s campaign narrative was that “I will continue from where my brother left off.” His late brother’s slogan was “Let the work of my hands speak for me”. After one year in the presidency, Late Bingu had descended on corruption with his Zero tolerance on corruption policy, which saw the arrest of a cabinet minister, and had defied the donors and solved the country’s food shortage with the FISP program.
After four years of Peter Mutharika, all we can see is the self-enrichment of his assistants, advisers and party members. There is no any “work of his hands” to speak for him. Indeed if he was really continuing where his brother left off, we would have seen no such thing as the corrupt sale of MSB bank. Bingu would not have waited for a whole year into his presidency to make operational the Presidential hotel at Umodzi Park, a move that resulted in some of the plumbing there to go rusty because four years after it was laid, it was never used.
Bingu certainly would not have made as his flagship program as leader the setting up of Community Colleges, for Bingu would have known that community colleges can only work to help in development after fixing the economy. Perhaps Peter Mutharika should explain what he really meant when he said he would continue where his brother left off, because after a whole four years there is still nothing to support this statement. The fact is that Peter Mutharika has pursued his own path and should not have fooled Malawians into sympathising with him simply because most of them missed Bingu. Peter’s path has been one of corruption, party superiority over government, cluelessness and infrastructure decline; blackouts, water shortages and shortages of medicines in hospitals.
With the current president failing to create any noticeable marks of leadership other than sending everyone with an issue to his assistants and advisors, the DPP is grappling and clutching for something to validate its administration. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), for 2019, it will not any longer be able misguidedly to invoke the spirit of Bingu and the public sympathy that comes with that. Cue project foundation stones that are more tombstones than anything else, and a serious badmouthing of opponents.
The DPP needed to understand that the mandate to govern is never based on past achievements, especially achievements of a party’s former leaders. A political mandate to govern was given by the electorate to Peter Mutharika, not Bingu, and it was based on prevailing hopes at the time, and especially on the promise of future greatness; the hope that Peter Mutharika and the DPP understood the aspirations of the masses- the electorate. Now that it is clear that Peter Mutharika and the DPP do not and have never cared about the aspirations of Malawians at large, and that all they care about is elevating Lomwe chiefs and giving party members lucrative government contracts, the DPP is standing on very precarious ground as we approach 2019.
After four years of Peter Mutharika, there remain many economic, social and governance challenges that are yet to be addressed. Make no mistake, the flamboyant memorials of Bingu and the faithful and ostentatious displays of the achievements of his leadership serve only to underline the fact that the current leadership, the brother, has no direction, no agenda, and no original ideas of his own to peddle and validate his presence in the state house.
My message to my fellow Malawians is quite simple: The DPP has now had 4 years. Other than editorialising the achievements of Bingu, Arthur Peter Mutharika has failed miserably to acquit himself as leader and has rather only demonstrated that his failure to deal with the Academic Freedom fiasco was not simply an isolated mishap but in fact a true measure of his ability.
Given a mandate and allowed four years to lay his own tracks, Peter Mutharika and the DPP leadership have looked only backwards to Bingu and created a legacy of nothing but corruption and arrogance.
Following this exposure of the true colours of the DPP, if we as Malawians cannot take stock and make a stand for something better in the next election, we will only have ourselves to blame.