Peter Mutharika
Malawi President Peter Mutharika

The manner in which President Peter Mutharika and the DPP continue to cling to the spirit of Bingu for public sympathy and mandate to govern the country testifies to one thing and one thing only: without invoking the spirit of Bingu, Arthur Peter Mutharika is an empty, agenda-less leader controlled by his assistant, and his DPP a direction-less party that lacks any original development ideas besides those of late Bingu’s, and no achievements of its own except Bingu’s legacy.

I am disturbed that President Arthur Peter Mutharika and the DPP want 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 for Bingu, this is a cheap trick by the DPP. The fact that the DPP thinks Malawians are not clever enough to see through reveals that as a party, the DPP is regarding Malawians with contempt. It also explains why bad governance and failures of governmental integrity are being perpetuated with impunity.

It is a fact that the current Mutharika and this DPP of today are yet to demonstrate to Malawians their leadership potential. Surely a year in power is long enough a time for the younger Mutharika to lay his own tracks and demonstrate that he has leadership qualities, and mark his difference from Bingu, showing that he is his own person. There were accusations about this Mutharika that he is nothing like this brother. Those allegations presented evidence of his unimpressive records in portfolios such as the Ministry of Education, which he presided upon during the 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 when it comes to leadership is a DPP unilateral wet dream, for it is a disrespect to the spirit of Bingu to compare him with the leadership failures that are evident in this brother of his. I believe we can all 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.

In one year of Peter Mutharika, all we can see is the self-enrichment of his assistants. There is no “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 has 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 first program as leader the launching 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 there is little so far to support this statement. The fact is that Peter Mutharika is pursuing his own path and should not fool Malawians into sympathising with him simply because most of them miss Bingu.

It is probably this same obsession of invoking the spirit of Bingu for sympathy that fooled the minister of information into thinking that he would score some points by this late in the day making claims about the cause of Bingu’s death and the person responsible for it. Surely if there was any evidence supporting such a claim, this administration would not have waited a year into its presidency to reveal it! The logic here is simple. With the current president failing to create any noticeable marks of his leadership other than sending everyone to his assistant, the DPP is grappling and clutching for something to validate its administration, and they have somehow misguidedly decided that this will be done by invoking the spirit of Bingu and the public sympathy that comes with that. How pathetic!

The DPP needs 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, and especially on the promise of future greatness; the hope that Peter Mutharika and the DPP understand the aspirations of the masses- the electorate. While we celebrate the achievements of Bingu, there remain many economic, social and governance challenges that this new DPP must address. 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 has no direction, no agenda, and no original ideas of its own to peddle and validate its presence in government.

My message to the DPP is quite simple: The party now has 4 years to go. These next 4 years are not for editorialising the achievements of Bingu. They are for Arthur Peter Mutharika to acquit himself as leader and demonstrate that his failure to deal with the Academic Freedom fiasco was simply a mishap and not a true measure of his ability. They are for Peter Mutharika and the DPP leadership to lay new tracks of economic development. Stop looking backwards to Bingu. Create your own legacy.

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