Is President Chakwera politically different from his predecessor Peter Mutharika?

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President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima have been ruling the country together since 202

It is my pleasure  to hear that  the two political giants, His Excellencies former Malawi president Arthur  Peter  Mutharika (APM) and incumbent President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera   will battle it out neck to neck in 2025 presidential race.

Those people who follow my articles can testify  that I predicted   some two years that the tough bout would be between  APM and Chakwera. 

In fact, the recent Mutharika’s  speech at  Njamba Freedom Park and Chakwera’s statement at Kamuzu day function in Blantyre have confirmed  that the road to 2025 presidential race will be pregnant with bumps, windings and dribbles.

 It is against this background  that an attempt is hereby made  to explore 10 similarities between  President Chakwera and his predecessor, APM.

First, both Chakwera and APM  were once in the teaching profession before joining  active politics.  

Coming from a  humble background, both Chakwera and APM    strove academically  to shake off the odds. While APM ended up lecturing at Washington University in the United States of America,  Chakwera pursued  the same  profession and rose to the rank of Principal of Zomba Theological College.

Theoretically, it is expected that the experience and  transferable skills they gained from undertakings  may be wisely  employed in the management of this   country.

Second, Mutharika and Chakwera are party leaders of strong political parties in Malawi.

Previous electoral results confirm that both Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP) and Malawi Congress  Party (MCP) led by APM and Chakwera  respectively are two strongest parties in Malawi.

Frankly speaking, DPP is much stronger than MCP on the basis that the former won 2019,2014, and  2009 elections alone without going into  a political alliance.

On the other hand,  it is widely believed that MCP grabbed the reigns of power in 2020 because of the Tonse Alliance.

Third, both Mutharika and Chakwera do not play politics of castigating each other.

Those who have closely worked with  APM testify that he is a likeable, industrious, objective and visionary person who  rarely gets distracted by petty issues. This is why he had no time responding to insults during his time of power.

Likewise, President Chakwera has a clean record of not directly attacking his political opponents.

However, it is highly likely that massive exchange of counterarguments  between APM and Chakwera will intensify during the campaign period. This is normal in as far  as democratic political campaigns are concerned.

Fourth, both Mutharika and Chakwera are theists.

In a country where over 90% of the population believe in God, it is not surprising that both APM and Reverend Chakwera are both theists.

Unfortunately, many Malawians now have lost trust in political leaders who sell themselves to the electorate  as God fearing saints.

Fifth, by the time Malawians will go to the polls, both Mutharika and Chakwera will have officially served one presidential term.

Objective Malawians can easily compare the performance of these two presidential candidates during  their  first term.

For instance, who performed better, between APM and Chakwera during  their first 5 years of reign in the following areas managing economy, fighting  corruption, uniting Malawians, food security, public service delivery, infrastructural  developments  and many more?

Sixth, both Mutharika and Chakwera’s regimes have been accused of perpetrating tribalism and regionalism in appointing Malawians to top public positions.

Truth must be honestly told that our democracy is not yet mature. Most Malawians purely vote for presidential candidates on the basis of their  tribes and regions of origin.

It is therefore not surprising that once ushered  into  power, the President usually  fills the top public positions with people from his tribe and region of origin.

It is interesting  to see a list of names of senior  public officers, circulating in social media platforms, who were allegedly appointed by both MCP and DPP regimes on the basis of tribalism, appeasement and regionalism.

Presidents are therefore implored to follow meritocratic procedures in appointing Malawians to senior public positions.

Corollary, caution must be taken to ensure  that deserving Malawians  are not disadvantaged, marginalised and discriminated against on the basis  of their tribe, district of origin, political  affiliation and relationship with a prominent politician.

Seventh, both Mutharika and Chakwera were once seen to take their time in making crucial decisions. 

For example, it took time for APM to fire the then Agriculture  Minister George Chaponda over the allegations that he corruptly and singlehandedly procured maize from  Zambia.

Malawi public service regulations  demand that public officers who are suspected of committing a crime must be interdicted to pave way for thorough investigations.  Such interdiction does not preclude  that the suspect is presumed innocent till proven guilty by a competent court of law.

Likewise, President Chakwera is equally slow in making crucial decisions. For instance, Chakwera took the whole one year to honour his promise of reshuffling his first cabinet.

Furthermore,  he found  it difficult to fire from his cabinet some MCP untouchables such as Secretary General of MCP, Eisenhower Mkaka, who has been allegedly implicated in a bribery  scandal.

Eighth, both President Chakwera and former president Peter Mutharika  have been accused  of being direct  beneficiaries of cronyism.

It is widely believed that APM took over the DPP leadership by virtue of being a  brother to the founder  of DPP , Bingu wa Mutharika.

In the same vein of happenstances, incessant allegations confirm that the son to the incumbent MCP president Chakwera married the out-of-wedlock daughter to former MCP president John Tembo.

Ninth, both Mutharika and Chakwera’s regimes have been accused of perpetrating corruption.

When Uladi Mussa, DPP presidential advisor on parliamentary affairs was banned entry into the USA by American government over allegations of corruption, APM was bitter about it.

Recently, President Chakwera also lambasted American government of tampering with the course of justice because it banned MCP corruption suspects such as former Inspector general of police, George Kainja  from visiting America. 

In an  attempt to promote  corrupt practices, Chakwera government  is replete with implementing absurd decisions.  

For starters,President Chakwera promoted  former Director of Public Prosecutions, Steve Kayuni to  Principal Secretary for  masterminding the unceremonious arrest of Director General of ACB, Ms. Martha Chizuma.

As if that is not enough, President Chakwera personally pardoned corruption suspect, Bakili Muluzi, corruption convict, Uladi Mussa  and recently  high profile corruption suspect, Saulos Chilima.

It is therefore not surprising that corruption during Chakwera regime is more rampant than during  the  APM’s reign.

Lastly but not least, one unique   striking similarity between Mutharika  and Chakwera  is that Saulos Chilima served as Vice President in their regimes.

There are times  when people have concluded that  Saulos Chilima has played a pivotal  role in  the political future of both APM and Chakwera.

In fact, other  people have labelled Chilima as a king maker who has failed to make himself a king. Without the support of Chilima, can APM or Chakwera make it to the State house by themselves? Let’s  wait and see.

In conclusion, much as Malawians do not expect  political leaders  to be saints, they are cordially advised  to vote wisely by putting in power leaders of high integrity.  Voting for the lesser evil is sometimes regarded as wisdom.

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