Thursday, February 2, 2023
HomeOpinionZ Allan Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: Will Atupele Muluzi Rescue Mutharika?

Z Allan Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: Will Atupele Muluzi Rescue Mutharika?

Atupele Muluzi leader of UDF and Malawi President and Leader of DPP form an Alliance

As weeks go by and turn into months and years, I often find myself wishing I wasn’t always writing what is considered negative criticisms about President Peter Mutharika and the DPP. Wouldn’t it be nice if the president did something we can all be proud of for a change? I mean writing about Peter Mutharika’s flawed judgement on critical issues of national importance is so depressing, and now it seems to be getting worse.

It is hard to believe that all of our president’s mental faculties are in the right working order when every time he opens his mouth he sounds so insanely out of touch with Malawian realities, and when he wrongly chooses to be silent on matters that need presidential input

Take his reaction to the landmark election case judgement a couple of weeks ago for instance. In his remarks, Mutharika said he will appeal against some elements of the judgement. Mutharika said he would only appeal against the judgement because it has “serious flaws and inaugurates the death of Malawi’s democracy as such it cannot stand unchallenged.”

He further said, “consequently, I have instructed my legal team to appeal against the judgement and challenge it. Let me, however, state that I will not attempt to appeal to stop the next election. In fact, we are ready to campaign and win as we have always done. We are appealing to correct the fundamental errors in the judgement.”

Only Mutharika would utter such bizarre comments about a five-judge unanimous ruling. Watching him spew those words on national television was painful. The nation saw a man who is way past his time mentally and physically. How could such a once widely respected professor of law incoherently utter such nonsense and believe that millions of disgruntled Malawians would sympathize with him?

The trouble with Mutharika is that he is so out of touch with reality and the fundamental needs of Malawians. Having lived abroad for decades, he has failed to adjust and understand the aspirations of common Malawians. His model understanding of Malawians is that of a few greedy ones surrounding him or of those cadets who paint themselves blue and dance for him when he conducts public rallies. When they praise him and his miserable performance as president for the past five years, he believes that this is the case with all Malawians.

Despite being a law professor and one of the people who helped in the framing of the Malawi constitution, he has chosen to act dumb and defend his thirst for power. His comments on the judgement reflect a person who definitely did not read it, but simply let his bootlickers tell him their opinion of it; or someone who believes his views are superior and who thinks Malawi is his farm.

It should be borne in mind that Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) did not want the case to be heard at all because they knew that they connived to violate the laws of the land. They tried to persuade the High Court and later the Supreme Court to dismiss the case but shamefully failed. All delaying tactics failed until they were forced to defend themselves in court. So Mutharika should not pretend to be a concerned democrat and defender of the constitution now.

Although Mutharika has the right to appeal, his intentions are simply selfish. But at 80 years, Mutharika is too old and senile to win a battle against the aspirations of Malawians. Looking closely at the court ruling, the judges took their time to understand Malawi’s democratic history, ruling class impunity and violations of our laws before moving to rescue Malawi’s democracy from the jaws of those who behaved like untouchables.

Mutharika’s appeal at the Supreme Court will just weaken him and the DPP further. In fact, in his current mental and physical state, he is not even supposed to be talking of contesting in the fresh elections. He is battered and tired. He has crashed the once mighty DPP. The reasonable thing to do is to resign and pave way for fresh leadership. That is the only way he can save face and keep the tiny bits of his legacy remaining.

Unfortunately, he is too blind to see, too senile to think properly and surrounded by vultures who feed on telling him lies. Sensing this weakness, Bakili Muluzi, always a wily customer, has recognised an opportunity for payback and managed to convince Mutharika that the future of the DPP (and of Malawi, apparently) lies in the DPP going back to the UDF and with Mutharika handing over power to Atupele Muluzi.

Now, acknowledging that as things stand Mutharika cannot rescue himself because he is too weak and therefore needs help is one thing. But deciding where that rescue will come from is quite another thing altogether.  The kind of rescue that Peter Mutharika needs cannot come from a politically lost soul like Atupele Muluzi. Regardless of the pomp and fanfare that accompanied the announcement of an alliance between the DPP and Muluzi’s UDF, all sane and sensible Malawians know that Atupele Muluzi’s political capital is long gone and that his sole interest in politics is simply to protect his father from being fully prosecuted in his corruption trials. Every Malawian knows this- even those in the DPP.

Those close to Mutharika have probably told him that the move is a masterstroke and that Malawians received the news of this alliance with shock and disbelief at the genius of the DPP. The truth though is that it was not so much disbelief as incredulity. Malawians are perplexed and wondering how Atupele Muluzi, a party leader who has been part and parcel of the DPP government for all intents and purposes throughout (only to be ditched briefly following the DPP’s fraudulent win in 2019) can be the big news that President Mutharika and the DPP should make such a meal of.

Was this not simply a formalisation of an already existing relationship that temporarily went sour, and with a partner whose political capital is so spent that he essentially brings nothing to the table?

The long-term impact of Atupele Muluzi’s presence in the DPP is doubtful if not suspect. We have already seen how the UDF Members of Parliament acted in Parliament recently. We also witnessed the miserably meagre number of votes that Atupele Muluzi managed to glean in the last election.

No, Atupele Muluzi will not rescue Peter Mutharika and the DPP. If anything, he has come to hammer in the final nails to the coffin of the DPP’s power, and in the process perhaps attempt to rescue the lost glory of UDF, a party that was once considered a champion of democracy. Atupele Muluzi’s indecisiveness during the elections case demonstrated his failure to understand the pulse of national politics as well as his lack leadership skills. Atupele Muluzi is nothing but a puppet of his father just as Peter Mutharika is the Puppet of DPP strongmen (or women).

Who will rescue Mutharika and the DPP? Will some brave people in DPP rescue him? Will they help DPP regain the lost glory whose first nail in the coffin was the resignation of the visionary Dr Saulos Chilima?

In the final analysis, I quite honestly do not care. I am more concerned about who will rescue Malawi as a nation. As Mutharika gasps with his last efforts at keeping hold of power, I hope the opposition and the hope they bring will not waste this fresh opportunity to bury him.

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Z. Allan Ntata
Z. Allan Ntata
Z Allan Ntata is a Barrister of Middle Temple, Anti-Corruption & Governance specialist and author of Trappings of Power: Political Leadership in Africa. Currently an Independent consultant in Governance and Anti-corruption, Ntata has a diverse background from lecturing in law to acting as legal counsel to the president of Malawi.

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