Malawi: Muluzi shadow haunts Mutharikas succession plan

malawi_mutharika_brothersMalawi, fresh from fourth democratic elections held on May 19, is already feeling the glimpse of how the mood will be like en route to 2014 polls as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led by President Bingu wa Mutharika is pitched in serious succession problems. (pictured: the Mutharika brothers)

Mutharika is constitutionally barred from contesting in the elections as he is serving his final second term of office. He rose through the ranks to become the countrys second democratically elected president courtesy of hard work by his former mentor-turned- nemesis ex-president Bakili Muluzi who propelled him to power.

But barely six months into the presidency, Mutharika ditched his party to form the DPP; a development which analysts said changed drastically the countrys political landscape.

Meanwhile, reports emanating from Malawi leaders close confidants in the government indicate that Mutharika is finding it tough to bank trust on his partys senior members as possible successors for fear that whoever takes over would do to him what he did to his predecessor Muluzi.

According to sources within DPP, Mutharika has made up his mind to coronate his brother Prof. Peter Mutharika as his successor.

Prof. Mutharika a highly revered and distinguished international scholar who is currently the presidents close advisor and Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs.

He is trusting nobody save for his brother. He is still haunted by what he did to Muluzi. I mean what will stop for instance Joyce Banda, Goodall Gondwe, Henry Chimunthu Banda or Khumbo Kachali from forming their party once becoming head of state? queried a DPP senior member who is also a cabinet minister, but preferred not to have his name published.

This was echoed by another parliamentarian who also heads an influential committee in the national assembly. He said if not for Mutharika duping Muluzi in 2005, definitely, the vice-president right Hon. Joyce Banda would have been a possible successor.

The reason why he cant take the gamble of picking Hon. Joyce Banda is that, besides being cunning politician she still holds Muluzi in higher esteem as they all come from the same Yao tribe and by their culture which is influenced mostly by Islamic religion, it is very rare for them to betray one another. So chances are high that once she becomes president for instance, it would be easy for her to associate with Muluzi because of his flexibility and down to earth altitude than Bingu who is mostly seen as an introvert and self centered.. commented the legislator.

When contacted to comment on the observation of Muluzi legacy affecting DPP operations mainly in identifying Mutharikas successor, DPP publicist Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba told Nyasa Times that the issue of DPP succession is an internal matter as such it is political fallacy to bring the name of the former president in the equation.

I dont have the answers right now cause am busy but why should DPP have anything to do with Muluzi?

The issue of succession as Ive said so many times is an internal matter that will be decided by the party at an appropriate time otherwise we have a president who has just won his second term and you want us to talk about next elections that are five years away? wondered Ntaba.

The issue of succession in the ruling DPP took a new twist when president Mutharika during a press conference, cleared the way for his trusted brother to contest for any position in the country.

Mutharikas statement attracted a pocket of reactions from various stakeholders with commentators while concurring with the president that his brother is not barred from aspiring the top office, urged the president to allow competition in the party is as far as the issue of succession is concerned.

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