An open letter to the Former President of Malawi, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika

Peter Mutharika, former president of Malawi

A stable democracy needs a strong government but no less importantly also a strong opposition. Without the latter, the road to corruption is wide open.” – Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Political Scientist, Human Rights, and Peace Activist.

Mr President,

I trust this letter finds you well after your loss in the 2020 fresh presidential elections. By the way, how are you faring in the opposition? As an experienced individual, you are surely aware that life is replete with ups and downs. We encounter challenges continually, but what truly matters is how swiftly we rise after a fall. Furthermore, our responses to such challenges can make all the difference between failure and success. Without further ado, I have some significant matters to discuss with you in this letter.

To begin with, it is indeed true that you won the 2019 presidential elections, as the results of both the 2020 fresh presidential elections and the 2019 presidential elections are statistically similar. Even the Constitutional Court acknowledged that it did not find evidence of rigging. Therefore, you were unjustly denied your victory through our biased and partisan courts. Such is life, and life must continue.

It is important to note that many Malawians are comparing your leadership with the current regime and have concluded that things were much better during your tenure. Our local currency remained relatively stable, prices of goods and services were reasonable, and infrastructural developments were evenly distributed across all regions. Subsidised agricultural inputs were accessible to all Malawians, irrespective of their political party affiliation or region of origin. Consequently, there is a prevailing belief that you should consider returning to the driver’s seat. However, Malawians need to know if you have made a decision to run again. I am aware of your aspirations to lead the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) if the Constitutional Court had ruled in your favor regarding the nullification of the 2020 fresh presidential elections, as you mentioned during the Mlakho wa Alomwe gathering some years ago.

Unfortunately, there are also some pressing concerns regarding your potential comeback. The first issue revolves around your age. While the Constitution of Malawi does not impose a maximum age for presidential candidates, some Malawians are of the opinion that your age might affect your performance as President. People age differently based on genetic makeup and other psychosocial factors, but it is common knowledge that only you truly understand the status of your health.

Secondly, internal party disputes within the DPP are negatively impacting your political reputation. Many Malawians are beginning to doubt your leadership competence, believing that if you cannot instill discipline within your own party, it would be challenging to lead Malawi as a nation. Faced with strong opposition from figures like Dr. Jessie Kabwira and prominent lawyer Gustavo Kaliwo, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and his committee took the bold step to expel them, resulting in peace within the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which ultimately won the 2020 fresh presidential elections. To regain credibility, it is crucial to follow the party’s constitution when disciplining members, even though there is growing animosity between the Judiciary and your party.

We have also heard that Nicholas Dausi has been expelled from the party. It is worth noting that the DPP has expelled members before, and some have retained their party positions after obtaining court injunctions. How certain are you that Nicholas Dausi will not pursue a similar legal course this time? Some individuals believe that the expulsion letter for Nicholas Dausi should not have come from your spokesperson, Mr. Shadreck Namalomba. Others have expressed concerns that Mr. Namalomba may have assumed an oversized role within the party, making unilateral decisions without restraint.

Thirdly, many Malawians are concerned that you may not have been fully aware of what was happening during your time in power. Some people question if you were genuinely in control of government affairs. How is it possible that your bodyguard, Norman Chisale, used your T-pin for an extended period without your knowledge? Were presidential decisions being made without your awareness? There was even an account with only you as the signatory, Your Excellency. This account received a deposit of MK 125 million at one point, and you claimed to be unaware of the depositor to the extent that you repaid the money. Were you genuinely in command of these matters, Sir?

People are aware that corruption existed during your regime. Unfortunately, corruption levels have surged to new heights, with Tonse Alliance supporters vying among themselves for the title of the most audacious looters of government coffers. Additionally, these current wrongdoers are amassing personal wealth without regard for the well-being of ordinary Malawians. At least some DPP members used to reinvest some of the funds in the community, such as Norman Chisale building a church in his home area. Some DPP members also organised football tournaments in their constituencies. The return of notorious figures who used to take the law into their hands is a cause for concern for some citizens.

Finally, Your Excellency, do you realise that the DPP is currently the weakest opposition party that has ever existed? This is evident in how the entire 2023 national budget was approved in just 120 minutes without proper scrutiny. Bills for borrowing money are being passed without adequate review, solely for the purpose of exploiting government resources.

In conclusion, Malawians need clarity on your intentions regarding the 2025 presidential election. Moreover, we are in dire need of a strong opposition party to hold the Tonse Alliance government accountable. As the President of the main opposition party, it is your responsibility to address internal issues and put your house in order. I concur with Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, the British-Israeli political scientist, who suggests that corruption thrives in the presence of a weak opposition.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Dzida”