Arthur Peter Mutharika
By Duncan Mlanjira
Former President Peter Mutharika says he would not be able to travel to Lilongwe to attend the funeral of former First Lady Anne Muluzi on Thursday.
In a statement, APM announced that the Democratic Progressive Part (DPP) would be represent by George Chapola while the immediate past First Lady Gertrude Mutharika will represent the former President and his family.
Anne Muluzi — wife to former President Bakili Muluzi and mother to the United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, died of cancer on Tuesday in Nairobi where she went for treatment at Aga Khan Hospital.
The move by the DPP president is seen by observers as APM’s ruse to dodge public appearance as he recently lambasted his predecessor President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration.
He also faces what seemed to be a rebellion in his party in which several members are flighting political posters of late Bingu wa Mutharika, former Head of State and founder of the DPP.
When it came to his notice through the first post that surfaced by DPP’s estranged vice-president for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa APM quickly issued a statement saying he was aggrieved that Nankhumwa used a picture of his late brother on the poster.
But soon after that statement several other DPP influential members, that include presidential aspirant David Mbewe, Sameer Suleman, Joyce Chitsulo, Charles Nchacha, Nicholas Dausi, secretary-general Gelzeder Jeffrey followed suit.
APM had pleaded that Nankhumwa should retract the poster saying 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.”
Nankhumwa’s poster had a screaming headline ‘Kalikonse Mukaona in 2022’ and quotes Bingu as saying “Power is never given on a silver platter. You must fight for it”.
The other pay tribute to Bingu, saying he was “father and founder of the once mighty DPP” and that “he was a visionary leader, fatherly, God fearing and intelligent” with a hashtag: “may his soul rest in peace.
David Mbewe describes himself as ‘the game changer’ saying “Change is Coming”.
The DPP has six presidential aspirants — Nankhumwa, Mbewe, Paul Gadama; Dalitso Kabambe; Bright Msaka and Joseph Mwanamveka whom APM invited for a reconciliatory meeting in November where they were asked to recognize APM’s authority and leadership as party president.
All aspirant are reported to have agreed to shelve their presidential ambitions and to stop any campaign until at a time when the convention would be announced and also to end all camps in the party.
The aspirants’ media teams were encouraged to merged into one team for the party to be led by Shadric Namalomba as the party spokesperson — but all these seemed to now spiraling into total divisions in the party.
Using Bingu’s face on the posters — rather than APM’s — seems to be an indication of these members’ rebellion of their party president, who was touted in the party’s November statement that he would be guilding all business in Parliament through Nankhumwa as Leader of Opposition.