Former president Peter Mutharika, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader, Monday chided his vice for the Southern Region and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa for allegedly using the face of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika on a campaign poster.
Nankhumwa, one of the DPP presidential aspirants, allegedly depicts, in one of the posters, the face of the party’s founder Bingu with the message that reads: “Kalikonse Mukaona, power is not given on a silver platter, you must fight.”
Nankhumwa could not be reached on his mobile phones to shed light on the origins of the poster but Mutharika’s spokesperson— who is also DPP spokesperson— Shadric Namalomba confirmed that the statement condemning the poster had originated from the former president.
Namalomba said the statement was sent to Nankhumwa directly but that he was yet to respond to issues raised in it at the time of the interview.
“The poster has his face. If he is not behind it, why is he not coming out to disown it? The statement has been sent to him, saying he should retract [the message on the poster].
Of course, he has not come back to us yet,” he said.
In the statement, which did not directly mention Nankhumwa’s name, Mutharika describes the poster as exploitation of the late Bingu’s name.
“It has come to my attention that one individual who is an aspirant to the DPP presidency has posted a poster in which he has put the face of the former president of the party, late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. The purpose of this callous action is to give the impression that the late Bingu would have endorsed this individual’s candidacy.
“As president of the DPP and head of the Mutharika family, I am distressed by this exploitation of our departed relative. I am therefore asking the individual concerned to withdraw this poster and to never post another one. On behalf of my family, I am asking this individual to respect Bingu’s soul and to let him rest in peace,” the statement reads.
Speaking at a recent political rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre, Mutharika reiterated that he would remain the party’s president until a convention is held in readiness for the 2025 presidential election.
Nankhumwa, former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe, former Finance minister Joseph Mwanamvekha and former Justice minister Bright Msaka are reportedly aspiring for the party’s presidency.
DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey asked for more time before she could comment on the matter, saying she had not seen the poster and Mutharika’s statement.
She was, however, quick to say she was not sure if Nankhumwa could have been the one who made the poster.
She also said the late Bingu belonged to everyone in the DPP beyond family relations and that anyone could use his picture.
“When we talk about Bingu, we don’t look at family relations. We look at him as the founder of the DPP and that’s it,” she said.
Political commentator Ernest Thindwa said what was happening in the DPP was an indication that democracy was not entrenched.
“Here is Nankhumwa, who is expressing interest in vying for the party’s presidency, but the current leadership seems not to support him. The problem is that the party has some favoured candidates and this usually happens when parties lose power. The party must allow everyone to freely compete for the party’s presidency and let people choose,” he said.