Professor Peter Mutharika, the acting President of the DPP, on February 27, 2013, walked out of Parliament on a vote to adopt the State of the Nation address President Dr. Joyce Banda made at the opening of the 44th session of Parliament.
Behind him, some of the DPP Members of Parliament voted in favour of President Dr. Banda’s speech, which was, ultimately, adopted with a decent numerical approval, by any standards.
Professor Mutharika has not explained on record why he left the House, especially at that material time. Nor have any of his subordinates or attendants filled the gaps of inquisitions in respect of that walk out.
Looked at from an ordinary perspective, Professor Mutharika, like any Member of Parliament, retains the entitlement of right and freedom to withdraw his physical presence from the chamber of the House at any time without regard to the need of answering to anyone.
From that perspective, it should not even be an issue that Mutharika’s presence was removed from the House as a vote on the state of the nation address was about to be taken.
After all, unlike in the past when he used to make contributions on the floor of the House while he was minister in his brother’s administration, these days he has cut the figure of a silent and withdrawn listener and his rights and freedoms for doing so have been allowed to be reserved.
But this only makes sense, as I have said, from the perspective of viewing and interpreting the exercise of his liberties using the ordinary eyes of the mind.
But put in the glare of the critical eye, then the interpretation of his actions immediately takes on a different meaning altogether.
Peter Mutharika is not an ordinary man, nor an ordinary politician; neither is he an ordinary member of parliament.
Therefore it is a fair assertion to make that his stature can only attract no ordinary scrutiny of his actions. His is the kind of scrutiny that befits his extraordinary standing.
Let me break it down. Professor Peter Mutharika is younger brother to late President Bingu wa Mutharika. By that mere reason, he is no ordinary man in the light of the public eye.
Professor Peter Mutharika is the leader of the largest opposition party in the National Assembly. He may not be leader of the opposition by legal interpretation, but he is by the statistical muscle of his party’s size in that House. This makes him no ordinary Member of Parliament.
Professor Peter Mutharika is interim leader of the immediate past ruling party. Besides, he is seeking to be confirmed as leader of that party and its candidate for the presidential elections in 2014. These items of fact make him no ordinary politician.
Because of the foregoing, therefore, the measure of answerability in terms of his behaviour as a person and a leader, granted the symbiotic relationship between the two, becomes weightier while its scope widens.
As a person, Peter has left his attitude in doubt. As a leader, he does not have to leave conclusion about his character to speculation. On both, he needs to be assertive and straightforward. Not is the sense of being arrogant or obtrusive, but in quest for settlement of all doubt.
In my considered opinion, this is not what Peter Mutharika did by walking out of the House before that vote. His walking out has opened a couple of doors through which speculation has been allowed to enter the interpretation contest of his character.
One such interpretation, which I find comfortable to side with, is that Peter Mutharika does not want to show his face on matters of principle either because of cowardice, dishonesty or uncertainty.
May be as a coward, Peter is sensitive to scrutiny and criticism of his ideas. Because of this, he fears giving chance to criticism may open up some parts of character, including the possibility that, like his brother, he is intolerant to be analyzed unfovourably.
As dishonest, maybe Peter is the kind of person who doesn’t want to put his political career at risk if it is established, through his openness, that his beliefs in matters of national importance don’t share a heartbeat with the aspirations of the people. Therefore, he would rather play the calculating game for the sake of his political convenience.
It could be that he also is not sure about his ideas and therefore he is afraid of the outcomes if they were exposed to the public domain. As such he would rather keep them to his chest until when he is absolutely certain.
There could be other reasons too. Whatever they maybe, however, by walking out of the House right before an opportunity which he would have seized to express his position on a matter of national public policy, Peter has put his leadership credentials up for public auction of opinion.
Unfortunately such a demeanour is not the kind that exudes confidence among his followers.
Little wonder the DPP caucus broke ranks in the House and everyone was seen voting as he/she pleased, with some of them endorsing the President’s address.
If Peter keeps his absence from matters of such importance, can he guarantee his presence to them when he becomes President?
Hail UDF leader Atuple Muluzi and MCP aged leader and Leader of Opposition in Parliament John Zenus Ungapake Tembo for their ‘yes’ vote. This tells us Tembo and the young Muluzi cannot be allies to the Professor at law, in the short, medium or long term.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :