Austin Atupele Muluzi’s political journey appears to be turning and turning in the widening spiral of infancy.
He entered the political stage in 2004 as a member of parliament and, being in his mid-20s, Atupele wasn’t quite received as a man on his own.
Even worse, his father, former President Bakili Muluzi, jokingly called him ‘bebe’ [baby] during the 2014 campaign trail.
From that joke, unfortunately, Atupele was tagged a political ‘bebe’ running political errand of his father—a tag he has been identified with since.
Then in his own famed ‘Agenda for Change’, Atupele was branded ‘Ung’onoung’ono’ or ‘Ukiti-ukiti’ as youthful presidential hopeful who had just reached the mark of 35 years, the eligible age to contest for presidency.
Today, with DPP-UDF alliance, Atupele is no longer being identified as a political ‘bebe’. He has now joined the fray of ‘Ana a Dad’ [Dad’s child]—a tag which every supporter of President Peter Mutharika gets identified with.
Arguably, Atupele’s transition from the tag ‘bebe’ to ‘Ana a Dad’ is a curious political tale that, to a greater extent, presupposes that his political journey appear to be revolving around childhood stage.
But is it justifiable to indict Atupele’s political journey as one trapped in its infancy?
Truth be told, Atupele’s 15 year political journey [2004 to 2019] has been a tale of struggles between of two opposing forces.
One, as son of former president Muluzi, Atupele has had to act in a way that shields and protects his father at all costs against every rising political tide.
And secondly, despite being Muluzi’s son, Atupele has had to face the public and prove that he is a man of his own, ready and eager to write his own story.
So, on one hand there is your father who needs your protection; and, on the other, there is your individual political ambition which, handled carelessly, it would hurt and destroy your father and your family.
How do you handle that?
Balancing the two hasn’t been easy for Atupele. However, truth be told, the young Muluzi hasn’t messed up.
In the past 15 years or so, Atupele has been a symbol of rare political civility. He has, always, displayed characters of political calmness and tolerance. These are attributes that every Malawian of goodwill wants to see in our politicians.
He can be slewed, of course, for failing to revamp UDF to its former greatness. Quite true.
However, judging from the energy he is spewing campaigning for DPP-UDF Alliance, it is without mention that UDF, with Atupele, is not in wrong hands.
Whichever side the pending fresh elections will go, Atupele needs to reject the ‘bebe’ and ‘Ana a Dad’ tags because they do not represent the truest nature of who he has become.
If DPP-UDF Alliance retains government, that is great for Atupele because he will use the vice-presidency to consolidate not just his grip on power but also to build UDF. If they lose, it will, again, be a silver lining for Atupele to use the energy he has to start growing the party from the grassroots.
Atupele has a political moment, not elections, to lose. He has become a main center of focus during this campaign and this is the time he must harness and show Malawians that they must look out for him.
No more ‘Bebe’, no more ‘Ana a Dad’. Atupele is his own man, fighting his battles.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :