What killed UDF is that Bakili Muluzi overstayed his welcome in politics, but he could not read the signs of time and that his was up.
It is often said that politicians do not learn from other people’s mistakes until they become case studies when history repeats itself, no wonder Peter Mutharika is doing similar mistakes committed by Muluzi.
At least Muluzi saw his second term as the county’s State President although Malawians could not allow him to prolong his stay in power by thwarting his open term bid. Mutharika on the other hand obviously misunderstood the encryption message in his 2020 election defeat that he has overstayed his welcome and it’s time to quit, instead he is being clingy to DPP leadership.
Buoyed by the founder syndrome, Mutharika thinks the Mutharika’s are the only good thing to have happened to the DPP and Malawi and he sees no one in the DPP good enough to succeed him.
He should have learnt from Muluzi. At 80, Muluzi has seen the best. During UDF’s hay days, the party had no match in terms of political strength. At the height of its rule, the UDF party managed to win 88 and 93 parliamentary seats in 1994 and 1999 respectively. The party has only 10 seats this far.
Ironically, save for the bad blood between the Muluzi’s and the Mutharika’s they seem to read from the same script, no wonder the latter are not learning from Muluzi’s capital blunders.
When the third term bid was foiled, Muluzi made sure that no one in the UDF was to succeed him as the State President. He even derided those nursing presidential ambitions like Justin Malewezi, Cassim Chilumpha, Aleke Banda, Sam Mpasu and Brown Mpinganjira by calling them madeya meaning they were misfits or not good enough to govern this country.
This stemmed from his bitterness for the failed open term bid and in a way he said ‘if I am not getting what I want, no one here succeeds me’ that’s why he opted for an outsider, Bingu.
In his calculation Muluzi thought Bingu was a puppet and he will only be there to warm the bench until his son Atupele becomes of age to become the President but he was wrong because Bingu proved that he was not a pushover.
It’s happening in the DPP now, Goodall Gondwe has tested the waters last week by indicating that the Northern bloc of the party has endorsed Mutharika to be the party’s torchbearer in the 2025 elections but that proved to be all lies as some people in the northern region have disowned Goodall’s endorsement.
Now after becoming disillusioned by his rejection in the northern region, Mutharika has intensified plans to make Dalitso Kabambe his successor. This is why he has been campaigning in the Cyclone disaster areas for Kabambe.
However this looks like political suicide and Mutharika is rehearsing tragedy. Mutharika may have money and power but he does not have influence regarding who becomes the DPP leader. And if at all he succeeds to make his nephew (Kabambe) the next DPP leader as per wish, he will do that by manipulating the delegates but things will end with high chances that the DPP will die the UDF way.