An exciting debate has been sparked over remarks made by Atupele Muluzi on his Facebook page that Malawians should stop playing a blame game but instead they should strive to offer solutions to the economic mess our country is experiencing.
Truth be told, the boat we are traveling in is sinking putting the lives of innocent Malawians at stake. Unfortunately, our boat driver, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera seems to be clueless on how to address the quandary at hand.
Will it assist matters if we start blaming our driver that he mismanaged funds that could have gone a long way towards the servicing of the sinking boat?
The message from Atupele Muluzi is that we should join hands to find the lasting solutions to the economic meltdown or we will all sink together with our brilliant ideas wrapped in our cranium.
However, some people have nurtured another school of thought that such Atupele’s remarks smack of the impending electoral alliance between the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
For sure, people are entitled to their opinions for in politics there are no permanent enemies.
However, the one-million-dollar question that persistently lingers is, can Atupele Muluzi be a game changer in 2025 General elections? Can he be an asset or a liability in any electoral alliance?
To objectively answer such pertinent questions, an attempt is made to delve into the positives and gloomy side of Atupele Muluzi.
The positive side of Atupele Muluzi
First, love it or hate it. Atupele has an added advantage of being a son to a political engineer, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, the former President of the Republic of Malawi.
Atupele grew in an environment where the source of living is politics. In fact, he was exposed to politics at a tender age. I once saw a photograph when Bakili Muluzi was introducing his son, Atupele at State House to President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Such privileged happenstances could have motivated Atupele to venture into active politics.
Examples are numerous that substantiate that some people have pursued the careers of their relatives such as Bush family in the USA, Kenyattas in Kenya, Katsongas, Chihanas and Mutharikas in Malawi.
Second, Atupele practices civilised politics of no insults and castigations. It is not Atupele’s line of politics to stage a political rally with the sole purpose of castigating his political opponents.
There was a time when Atupele Muluzi was castigated left, right and centre for using a presidential motorcade during the campaign period in the run up to the 2020 fresh presidential elections.
Atupele responded by challenging them that they were supposed to calculate all the motorcade expenses and he was ready to foot the bill. What a challenge!! Guess what!! There was total silence thereafter.
Third, many allegations have tried to smear Atupele with corruption scandals. However, Atupele has come out clean.
Fourth, in all the portfolios of being a cabinet minister, there is a strong evidence that Atupele emerged to be an above-average performer.
Fifth, Atupele stunned the majority of Malawians when he came of out his cocoon to agitate for agenda for change during Bingu wa Mutharika’s regime. His activism inspired the youth because it gave them hope that a better Malawi is possible even with a young leader.
Six, watching the 2019 presidential debate, one is prompted to conclude that Atupele is a good debater.
He did not debate for the sake of it all because most of his arguments have been fulfilled.
During the debate session, Atupele referred to Chakwera as an inexperienced driver who would not take Malawians to the promised land of Canaan.
Indeed, two years down the line of Chakwera’s rule, things are worse. Foreign debt has trebled to 10 trillion Kwacha. Our local Kwacha is tumbling everyday. Inflation rate is high. Corruption has become an accepted diabolical incident.
In his argument, Atupele forewarned Chakwera of overpromising Malawians and he predicted that such unrealistic promises would not be fulfilled.
Two years down of Chakwera’s rule, many Malawians are sleeping on empty stomach due to lack of food. The promise of three meals a day has proved to be a scam. Instead of creating one million jobs, many Malawians were retrenched and they remain jobless right now.
Seven, Atupele started exuding leadership skills at a tender age. He was once a headboy at a London-based school. His oratory skills have assisted him to competently discharge his duties at all levels.
Eight, it is widely accepted that Atupele is one of the youngest politicians who have assumed lucrative positions including being the running mate to Prof. Peter Mutharika in 2020 fresh presidential elections.
Being young and energetic, the sky is the limit for Atupele in as far as political accomplishments are concerned.
Nine, besides being a politician, Atupele is a seasoned entrepreneur. Of late, Atupele has shown interest in global and regional business enterprises which can offer market opportunities for Malawian agricultural produce. This is why he claimed that he had to take a break off from active politics to pursue a business course in China.
Last but not least, it is not an understatement to conclude that Atupele is tolerant and flexible enough to work with any politician. He worked with Joyce Banda and Prof. Peter Mutharika, what can prevent him to work with Dr. Lazarus Chakwera as well?
The gloomy side of Atupele Muluzi
In accordance with the philosophy of dualism, if Atupele has strengths then he must have some weaknesses of some kind too.
First, Atupele is on record to have made infantile, irrational and emotional decision of resigning from the position of the party’s president for no reasonable reason.
Members of UDF entrusted him with the position at an elective convention. It was therefore a breach of trust when Atupele threw the towel.
Realistically, one would not relinquish an elected position in favour of a short course of 3 months only.
It smacks of lack of seriousness when Atupele wants to reclaim his position now citing lame excuses like he was requested by some members to do so.
Second, some Malawians are of the view that Atupele is the direct beneficiary of his father’s looting of government resources.
Malawians still recall that Dr. Bakili Muluzi was answering charges of diverting government funds to his personal bank account to the tune od MK1.87 billion. However, President Chakwera thought it wise to discontinue the case.
The counterargument is, how can a son be accused of sins committed by his father? Is this fair justice?
Third, Atupele lost his parliamentary seat simply because he abandoned his constituency in favour of a cabinet ministerial position.
Four, under the presidency of Atupele Muluzi, UDF has been losing popularity. For instance, there were 85 UDF members of parliament (MPs) when Dr. Bakili Muluzi won presidential elections in 1994. Currently, UDF has only 10 MPs in the National Assembly with Atupele being outside the house since he lost his parliamentary seat.
Five, despite the claims that Atupele Muluzi earned his Bachelor’s degree in law, there is no evidence that he once practiced law whether in government or private sector.
Six, as an extension of the previous point, many Malawians are sceptical whether Atupele successfully completed his studies. Unfortunately, Atupele has not cleared such scepticism among his voters.
Seven, Atupele Muluzi has been accused by some UDF members of lacking openness and transparency when it comes to working with the then ruling DPP party.
Atupele was the only cabinet minister from UDF during the reign of Prof. Peter Mutharika.
Eight, Atupele seems to be a victim of circumstances by virtue of being Bakili’s son.
There are fears that Bakili Muluzi may be calling the shots behind the hood through Atupele as a pawn.
Some people believe that the appointment of Atupele Muluzi into cabinet positions during both Peter Mutharika’s and Joyce Banda’s regime were politically engineered by Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
Many people have started connecting dots. Just soon after President Chakwera has pardoned Bakili Muluzi from being prosecuted, Atupele is now lenient to criticise the Chakwera government.
Nine, the rise of Atupele Muluzi to be Prof Peter Mutharika’s running mate in 2020 fresh presidential election was a great stepping stone to his political career.
Unfortunately, Prof. Peter Mutharika lost the 2020 presidential election. This has disadvantaged Atupele because his relevance is politics is in a tight corner bearing in mind that he is no longer a member of parliament in the National Assembly.
Ten, many political analysts have described Atupele as a mere political opportunist.
When Atupele foresaw the impending loss of Joyce Banda in 2014, he abruptly resigned from a cabinet ministerial position only to accept another position later from Prof. Peter Mutharika.
Now it is alleged that he is putting his fingers crossed to partner with the mighty Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Let us wait and see.
In conclusion, whether Atupele will become a game changer in Malawi’s political scene in 2026 will depend upon a multiplicity of factors such as how he will capitalize his strengths while overshadowing his weaknesses. The changing political dynamics and voter aspirations in Malawi may also play an important role in this arena.