A few weeks ago, Goodall Gondwe, 84, who is DPP’s northern region Vice President, held a press conference at his house in Lilongwe where he announced that his region has endorsed Peter Mutharika, 82, as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2025 elections.
He said that Mutharika is the only one who can hold the party together in the face of factionalism brought about by Mutharika’s pending retirement.
A few days later, Zeria Chakale, the party’s central region Vice President held her own press conference where she also endorsed Peter Mutharika as a torchbearer in the next presidential election. She cited the same reasons as Goodall Gondwe.
Things began to get twisted when it was time for the southern region to announce its own endorsement. This time, that responsibility fell on the shoulders of Regional Governor, Charles Mchacha.
Mchacha assembled a panel of district governors but when the final moment came to make the announcement he is said to have received a highly placed call forcing him to cancel the meeting.
Apparently, Mchacha was about to announce the endorsement of not Peter Mutharika but Dalitso Kabambe, someone they thought was Mutharika’s blue eyed boy and the anointed successor. They were wrong.
Mchacha paid a high price for this ‘mistake’ because two days later he was unceremoniously removed from his position and replaced with little known Thompson Kamangira from Chikwawa. His last ditch attempt to turn around and endorse Mutharika could not save him. He has since obtained a court injunction, retraining APM and DPP from firing him.
This is a clearest sign that Mutharika is dead serious about his comeback, and he is prepared to deal ruthlessly with anyone standing in his way. Mchacha is just an addition to the casualties of Mutharika’s come back bid. Many others are on the way.
Soon after the presidential election in 2020, Mutharika gave the impression that he was retiring and would hand over the DPP presidency to a successor at the party’s next elective convention ‘pa 2023’.
Fast forward to 2023, the narrative is cosmically changing. Instead of handing over power to a successor at a convention, DPP is erupting with endorsements of Mutharika for 2025. The ‘capable’ leader that Mutharika kept talking about was actually himself. Handing over power to a successor was plan B.
Mutharika himself has been noncommittal on whether he will stand or not, choosing to toe the familiar [and tired] line that “so many people have asked me to stand and I am considering it”.
In Malawian politics, this is a familiar statement of someone who actually wants to stand, and who may also be the architect of his own endorsements.
WHEN THE CHICKEN SWALLOWS FROM ITS OWN EGGS
In poultry farming, when a chicken begins to break its own eggs to swallow the ‘juice’ inside, or cannibalize its fellow chickens, they trim its beak in a process called debeaking.
The unity that Goodall Gondwe said the Mutharika candidacy would bring abroad meant that all presidential aspirants should drop out of the race to support Mutharika. They must pave way for the ‘big kahuna’; the owner of the party (DPP was founded by his brother, late Bingu wa Mutharika).
Obviously, candidate Msaka, candidate Kabambe; candidate Mwanamvekha and candidate Gadama will drop out of the race. They will grumble behind the scenes but that will be as far as they will go. They are cowards and do not have courage to stand up to Mutharika or compete against him at the forthcoming convention.
Kabambe will be even bitter because he was made to think he is the anointed one only to be thrown under the bus. He will, however, be tamed with a promise of the Finance Ministry portfolio in the next Mutharika government.
The same cannot be said about Kondwani Nankhumwa though. He is the black sheep of the family, and everything in the book has been done to deflate him, including removing him from the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament and even firing him from DPP. He had to be saved by the courts.
Nankhumwa has nothing to lose, and he will likely make Mutharika work for his money (after all he will never have a seat at the high table in the next Mutharika government).
Already, a group of DPP Members of Parliament (MPs) led by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Nicholas Dausi held a press conference in Lilongwe on Thursday, April 14, 2023.
They accused Goodall Gondwe and those that are endorsing Mutharika for not making exhaustive consultations. In fact, they have challenged Mutharika to come in the open to declare his candidacy than hide behind endorsements. Not long ago another member of the party’s NGC, Kenneth Nsonda expressed similar sentiments.
If the strategy [according to Goodall] is to threaten all presidential aspirants into submission, it will not work. Nankhumwa will likely challenge Mutharika. He has shown he is prepared to go all the way, and it will be an interesting duel at the convention.
APM THE DEAD WOOD
Mutharika must expect a thunderous thumping at the forthcoming DPP convention, which is the last embarrassing straw for him. Whatever is remaining of his legacy will fly through the window, and that is when he will wish to be abducted by aliens from Mars. Or to take the last flight home (he is a US citizen). It will be left for Shadreck Namalomba, Francis Mphepo, Chimwemwe Chipungu, Goodall Gondwe, George Chaponda and others to eat the remaining humble pie.
Mutharika is 82 and in 2025 he will be 85. For the first time in the history of this Republic we will have an 85 year old presidential candidate. At a press conference held at his page house in Mangochi not long ago, Mutharika was asked how he is wrapping his head around the calls for him to stand.
The assumption (and genuine one) is that at 82 Mutharika should have been enjoying his armchair with great grandchildren swirling around his knees. Mutharika gave the example of Biblical Methuselah who lived for 800 years, adding that age is just a number.
Actually age is a big issue, and Mutharika must not be cheated. Aging is an indication of how long one has lived on this world and it does take a toll on the physical wellbeing of a person. Energy levels ebb when you grow old. Right thinking people often start to think like children. This is a fact of life and it is natural and normal. In fact, it must be celebrated.
If he wins in 2025, at 85, it means Mutharika will finish the term at 90. God forbid. By that time he will be a serious contender of the top accolade of being the oldest person in the world. At 90 Cameroon’s Paul Biya can barely recognize himself. He can be hauled to an international conference and fart loudly through the microphone and speakers without knowing where he is.
Mutharika should avoid going through such ordeal, or to be used by people for their own personal benefit.
Mutharika failed miserably to run the country when he was President for six years. He was loudly snoring on job as aides and relatives stole public money and indulged in corruption right under his nose.
He has surrounded himself with the very same characters in his comeback bid. APM is dead wood. He must not be allowed anywhere near the corridors of power!
*Disclaimer: The author is writing in his personal capacity*