The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Arthur Peter Mutharika, often referred to as APM, represents a significant threat to the survival of the political grouping.
The party finds itself in a whirlwind of uncertainty regarding its leadership, particularly when it comes to the crucial decision of selecting the party’s candidate for the 2025 presidential elections.
At the heart of this tumultuous situation lies APM, who, if we are to take his recent statements during the Mulhakho wa Lhomwe cultural celebrations into account, appears to be harbouring aspirations of coming out of retirement for another run at office..
Mutharika has served as the State President of Malawi for one term. The country’s constitution allows him to stand for re-election, but there are compelling reasons why his candidacy remains a subject of controversy within the party.
First and foremost, the issue of age cannot be overlooked. By the time Malawi goes to the polls in 2025, Mutharika will be 85 years old. This, understandably, raises doubts about his ability to lead a vigorous and successful campaign.
It is not merely a question of his eligibility but a realistic assessment of whether he can effectively fulfill the demanding role of a modern head of state at such an advanced age.
Secondly, the DPP’s constitution is unequivocal regarding the re-election of National Governing Council (NGC) members. The party’s rules stipulate that a member can only be re-elected once at a duly convened convention.
APM, who first assumed the party’s presidency before the 2014 tripartite elections and secured re-election in the lead-up to the 2019 polls, has already been given this privilege. His candidacy would, therefore, challenge the party’s own established principles.
Within the DPP’s NGC, some insiders question whether Mutharika should be allowed to bend or disregard the party’s constitution to serve his desire to be on the ballot.
In other words, Mutharika would be raping the constitution of his party which is undemocratic and unprogressive.
Regrettably, the DPP has been closely associated with the Mutharika family since its inception, making it challenging for followers to question his decisions. This connection between the party and the Mutharika name raises concerns about the party’s internal democracy and the temptation to prioritize familial interests over party principles.
Yet, the crucial question remains: Is this a positive development for the DPP and for democracy in Malawi? The answer appears to be a resounding no. Mutharika has already had his turn as the country’s president, and the results of his previous presidency are not shrouded in secrecy.
Many Malawians believe that he failed in his leadership and the implications of his time in office have left indelible marks on the nation’s developmental landscape.
In the end, the ongoing debate over Mutharika’s potential candidacy encapsulates broader questions about leadership, democracy, and party values in Malawi.
While it is crucial to respect the constitution and the principles that underpin political parties, it is equally important to consider the potential consequences of overlooking these principles in favour of a familiar name.
The future of the DPP and the democratic process in Malawi may hinge on the party’s ability to navigate this delicate balancing act and ensure that the party’s interests take precedence over personal ambitions.
Nonetheless, not all is lost because Mutharika has Shadric Namalomba, his spokesperson, to wake him up in time before he shamelessly loses the little that is left of his legacy.
A second loss to President Lazarus Chakwera in 2025 would leave him in political ruins and could spell the end for the party’s future.