He burst onto the scene with a CV no other candidate at the time could match, yes, a Law Professor with over 40 years residency in America. Too many Malawians, who for long had thought University degrees mean higher productivity in an individual, saw him as the dream Malawi had been hoping for. A well-educated leader, who will use his high levels of intelligence to rescue Malawi from the many problems it had. Sceptics kept their mouths shut; even when they spoke, not many would listen to them. However they had a point. They tried to remind Malawians that the so-called Professor’s track record as a Minister of Education in the [then his late brother’s] government, was nothing but a disaster. Fast forward 4 years into his term as the President of the Republic of Malawi, Peter Mutharika has been nothing but a real disappointment. To say he is probably the worst of all the leaders Malawi has had might seem cruel, but in a culture where we give respect to the elders , we are better off settling at saying his term hasn’t been the best.
As Malawi slowly approaches the general elections next year, I find myself sitting down feeling sorry for Mutharika. Politics is dynamic and anything can happen. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said “a week is a long time in politics” so although I may pity the Malawi Leader today, that doesn’t rule him out from achieving an unexpected win in the general elections. Mutharika’s recent rhetoric has been nothing short of a man who is living in denial. Many analysts and critics have written about it. His claims that Malawi is heading in the right direction comes short of an insult to the many Malawians who have almost conceded that at this time the country is a failed state. Here is a President who is denying that corruption is rampant in his government, that his government has been at the forefront of nepotism, that the electricity problems are still ongoing. Two things are happening to the president. Either he’s advocating a deliberate denial of his shambolic performance as leader over the past 4 years, or alternatively the people closest to him are busy feeding him lies, making him think that the country is very much appreciative of his tenure in office.
In Mutharika I see a leader who is leading a party that is under panic. DPP is facing the biggest challenge from the resurgent Malawi Congress Party and the rising popularity of its leader Dr Lazarus Chakwera. The few months that are remaining are not enough for the DPP to fulfil the many promises it pledged in its manifesto back in 2014. Whether the party was overly ambitious and set the bar too high, any evaluation of its performance would be dependent on whether it has achieved what it promised Malawians. A closer look at their manifesto showcases many broken promises. While the party has doggedly attempted to build as many stadiums as it can or rather, laid foundation stones for many stadiums, their 2014 Manifesto serves as a reminder as to how much they have broken the promises they made to Malawians.
Mutharika and his party DPP committed to sustain fertilizer subsidy for the poor in Malawi. The party commit to abolish the coupon system and make subsidized fertilizer available for every maize subsistence farmer that needs it. The party promised to pursue Zero Tolerance on Corruption, Bribery, Fraud and Theft of government resources. Corruption by high profile government offices has never been tackled and efforts to dig deeper into the famous “Cashgate Scandal” has failed to investigate the corruption that started during Bingu Wa Mutharikas era. DPP promised to introduce Health Insurance for all public servants; to end critical shortage of staff, medicine and drugs; repair and maintain medical equipment. The party has failed to provide enough medicines in hospitals, nor introduce the promised Health Insurance for public servants. There were promises around Housing and access to information which have not been fulfilled. Whether all of this will be done in the remaining few months is yet to be seen.
Mutharika’s plight is aggravated by the fact that the old man is getting on abit . He is 77 years old and will be 78 at the next general. While trying my best not to be ageist, Mutharika may be better off thinking about retirement. It makes me wonder why the President has not been grooming the youthful Vice President Saulos Chilima to take over from him and represent the party next year. Well, the situation is not all rosy for our President and his DPP camp.