APM market visits: Humility or electioneering?

By Luke Bisani

February 23, 2018

Malawi leader Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) and his wife Gertrude Mutharika recently visited local markets to buy food items from small businesses, raising questions about their intentions.

Mutharika and his wife were also seen in Ndirande market where they bought a sofa set that is to be part of furniture at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.

APM and wife buying fish.

Some Malawians applauded Mutharika for the gesture with others describing him as a “humble” man.

The Malawi leader was also applauded for buying local things like the sofa set instead of importing luxurious furniture for Sanjika palace.

Malawians on social media said Mutharika is humble since he could have commanded any other officer at the State House to buy the sofa or foodstuffs for him.

But is APM humble?

A year before the 2014 tripartite election, Mutharika was seen boarding a public transport in Lilongwe as one way of sharing the suffering with Malawians under the leadership of Joyce Banda.

Mkhutche: the acts are “populist stunts” and not being humble.

Mutharika also visited a local market to buy fish popularly known as bonya.

Though the ruling party then, People’s Party (PP), castigated him saying it was “cheap politics”, the man was applauded by other Malawians as many saw the caring spirit from the presidential aspirant.

But since being elected into power, the Malawi leader, in his three years in power, never boarded a minibus or bought bonya to reaffirm his humbleness that was noted during the campaign period for the 2014 polls, until over a week ago – some months before the 2019 general elections – when he appeared in markets.

Political expert Wonderful Mkhutche feels the acts are “populist stunts” and not being humble.

“The president’s acts do not signify him as humble man as some are suggesting. Some are even saying the president supports local business. But there is more to humanity than appearing in public places. Just like there is more to supporting local businesses,” said Mkhutche.

He further urged political leaders to be meeting people in public places to seek their views on national matters.

“It is commendable that at times the president should meet people on the ground. But this means that the platform has to be one in which the president is listening to the people and acting on it. This was not the case with what recently happened,” he added.