Beyond Lazarus Chakwera, Peter Mutharika meeting


A picture showing President Lazarus Chakwera and First Lady Monica Chakwera visiting former president Peter Mutharika and his spouse Gertrude Mutharika at the latter’s retirement home in Mangochi set tongues wagging among some quarters.

It is rare for presidents and their predecessors to go along pleasantly in the scheme of our politics which is often fraught with slander and vengeance.

For records sake, before the Chakwera and Mutharika Mangochi encounter, it is only former president Bakili Muluzi and his predecessor Hastings Kamuzu Banda who met after the latter had handed over power to the former.


Of course, in the case of these two, it was easy to meet because, after all, Banda had conceded defeat and congratulated Muluzi even before vote counting in the 1994 presidential election had been concluded.

But even that meeting did not prevent the rule of law from taking its course where state authorities suspected Banda might have contravened the law. Of course, he was cleared and the rest is history.

Now coming back to the picture and the video that widely circulated on social media in which the Chakweras and the Mutharikas came together for the first time after the court-sanctioned June 23 presidential election, through which Mutharika was ousted from power, perhaps the broader expectation was that the two are foes and would not be comfortable coming face to face anywhere in the world.


After all, we have seen Mutharika conspicuously missing at several national events which an immediate-past president would be glad to attend as a show of unity and progress.

When a former president stays away from national activities presided over by his successor, the general feeling is that he is disgruntled and is failing to accept that he is no longer occupying the top seat.

Of course, Chakwera’s meeting with Mutharika— informal as it was—does not in any way conclude that Mutharika has left the past in the past.

After all, the former president said a couple of times after the election that he had been toppled and to date he has not extended a congratulatory message to his successor. Thus, it would be preposterous to imagine that all of a sudden, he has moved on and wants to be a ‘changed’ former president that Malawians have been longing for.

This is not to imply that the meeting was unimportant. The departure from conventional predictions—that presidents seldom interact with their predecessors—is necessary for a new wave of political philosophy to emerge in Malawi.

After all, Chakwera visited Mutharika during the festive season, a period when love must lead. This is a period when all grudges must be tucked away and renewals must come to the fore.

Essentially, the visit happened and each of the parties is in their own space now. Still, there are some observers who fear that such a meeting has the potential of offsetting progress in cases which state institutions are pursuing against the former president.

We all know that Mutharika has some cases which are being pursued by agencies such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau. His accounts are frozen because they are being investigated for possible criminal activities.

He has also been mentioned in some alleged illicit transactions and, evidently, Malawians expect logical conclusions to the allegations.

It should not be the meeting the former head of state had with Chakwera that should throw spanners in the work of investigation agencies that are probing Mutharika.

The agencies must work independently and reach conclusions which they are satisfied with, present a true reflection of what they found. Chakwera did a noble thing by visiting Mutharika but he should not silently ‘let off’ the former president if he has cases to answer.

In fact, investigation agencies should continue doing their work without any political interference. They must show that even when a sitting president visits, shakes hands and smiles at his predecessor, their work cannot be done any differently.

The good thing is that whatever Chakwera and Mutharika ‘chatted’ about has remained between them and hopefully it will not leave the walls of that enormous beachfront home which the latter has christened Villa Mutharika.

Let the rule of law take its course on the former head of state just as it does on any other person alleged to have come in conflict with the law. It should be up to the courts to conclude that he is innocent.

Otherwise, the gesture by Chakwera to visit Mutharika is a good starting point to prod former heads of state to start coming out and move on after elections. It is good for national unity and sends strong messages that we are all one.

It should not imply unjustifiable immunity from prosecution because that would send out strong signals that politicians are not interested in respecting the rule of law and would do everything with their power to protect each other after meeting in closed doors.

Let the law with dispatch come down on all those who break it. Only then will we, as a nation, make real progress in ending impunity and corruption in high offices.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker