Why Peter Mutharika should not stand in 2019
I want to believe that Peter Mutharika is not a bad person. Neither is he a bad leader. I think he is a capable manager who also has good intentions for the country. However, he just happens to be president of the country at a wrong time.
Unfortunately, Mutharika is not a John Magufuli. But he emerged as leader for the country at a time Malawians are looking for a Magufuli.
Mutharika’s leadership is so ordinary but it is not any worse than what we have had in the past. It looks bad because Malawians are simply not looking for an ordinary leader.
So unless Mutharika is willing to change and become a Magufuli, he will not be able to satisfy the current needs of Malawians.
Mutharika needs to be extraordinary to convince Malawians that he is a good leader for various reasons. First of all, he become president at time Malawians had gotten many raw deals from politicians who made good promises and started well in their terms but ended up disappointing them in a big way.
After the bad presidents Malawi has had in the past, the electorate is no longer willing to take words and promises alone from the political leaders. They want action and results there and then. Unfortunately, Mutharika may not be able to deliver action and results as he may have wanted because he inherited an economy that was already headed for disaster.
The withdrawal of aid by the donors following cashgate in 2013, emerging effects of climate change as well as the droughts and dry spells of early this year means the economy hardly has any resources to enable it recover quickly as it has done before following similar economic crisis’s in the past.
His strategy of turning Malawi into a self sustaining country economically is good and is probably the only way to go but that will take a long time and he is leading a kind of people that do not accept pain or make sacrifices for the sake of future good.
Mutharika also carries with him the “Mutharika” brand which, although it started incredibly well between 2004 and 2009, spoiled itself in the after years and lost the liking of many people.
Yes Mutharika won the elections in 2014. But with a victory percentage of 31 percent, it is clear that there are more people in the country who did not want a return of the Mutharika brand. The only problem is that they were fragmented and did not settle for a common candidate during the elections.
This means that there is 69 percent of the Malawi electorate that did want Mutharika and still don’t like it that he occupies Plot Number One.
Yes, Bingu wa Mutharika came on the scene on almost a similar situation in 2004 but his charisma and gifted rhetoric helped him quickly win over some of his critics to the point where he won with a resounding victory in subsequent elections in 2009, even after dumping the UDF party which sponsored him to the presidency in 2004.
The quick resumption of aid after the elections in 2004 also helped the older Mutharika to deliver on his election promises. Apart from the Farm Input Subsidy Programme, Bingu delivered unprecedented infrastructure development to Malawi within his first five years, thanks to international support from China and other development partners to the country.
However, the favour towards the Mutharika brand quickly evaporated when Bingu completely changed in the years after the 2009 elections when he started unnecessary battles with almost everybody to the point where donors withheld aid, causing economic suffering among the people which resulted into the street protests of July 2011.
Bingu died in 2012 at a time his popularity and that of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was at its lowest point. It only took a miserable and decimal performance as president by Joyce Banda for the DPP to look like a better devil and bounce back to power in 2014.
But the DPP is now in power and it is being measured against its own performance. And things don’t seem to be working for the party and indeed the country.
And people have now started connecting the situation in the country now to that of the time Bingu departed in 2012. And as long as things continue as they are, that connection won’t go. It will be harboured all the way to the elections in 2019. And it doesn’t look good.
May be a rebranding could save the DPP and make it trustworthy once again, even simply based on its promises. Peter needs to be given credit for bringing the DPP back into power in 2014. It is probably his exit that could also save the party in 2019.
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