Bakili Muluzi offers Mutharika leadership lessons, says DPP needs unity to win any election

Former President of the Republic Bakili Muluzi on Sunday, October 10, 2021 squarely blamed another former President and President of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika for factionalism and disunity that has characterized the party since losing government power in June 2021.

Speaking at the annual Mulhako wa Alhomwe cultural festival which was held at Chonde in Mulanje, ‘Atcheya’ as Muluzi is popularly known among his adorers told Mutharika to rise to the occasion and “take the leadership” in order to save the party from extinction.

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Under his leadership, the party has lost many parliamentary by-elections. There is currently serious factionalism in the DPP, and a solution seems nowhere near.

“Your Excellency, as President of the party, someone who is a father of all children in Malawi, take the leadership to ensure that there is unity in DPP. The party is divided and as such it cannot win an election; Your Excellency are the President and take the leadership and end the current divisions.

Nankhumwa greets former President Dr Muluzi

“The good news is the party is united at grassroots level but it is only at the top where there are problems,” said Muluzi, attracting ‘Atcheya, Atcheya chants from the Alhomwes at the event.

He said he is not DPP and that he was only making the sentiments as someone who loves multiparty democracy.

There have been numerous calls that the party must work out on its leadership through a national convention and that Mutharika must retire. Some leaders who have been in the forefront calling for change of leadership have been ‘disciplined’ and barred from senior executive meetings.

Since he lost the June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election, he has not attended any public party event. The event at Chonde was his first public appearance. During his 81st birthday anniversary, Mutharika told his supporters at his private residence in Mangochi that he will remain President of the DPP until 2023 when the party is expected to hold an elective convention.

In his speech at the Mulhako wa Alhomwe cultural festival on Sunday, Mutharika stunned the nation that he is praying hard that the Constitutional Court that is hearing the case about the interpretation of Section 75 of the Constitution.

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The DPP is seeking interpretation of Section 75, and possibly nullification of the June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election, which elected President Lazarus Chakwera to the Office of the President of the Republic.

The DPP argument follows Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s ruling, which invalidated Mutharika’s appointment of four Commissioners to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), instead of three as is provided for in the constitution.

In his presentation to the High Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court in Blantyre, Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has argued, among others, that the matter was arising from a decision made by a High Court Judge and cannot be heard by the same High Court although it is sitting as a constitutional court. He said it is DPP, which created the constitutional mess when it nominated four names and former President Mutharika went ahead and appointed the four as MEC Commissioners instead of three as provided in the Constitution, and that it is odd that the same DPP should be seeking relief from the court or to benefit from the mess it created.

Mutharika the DPP candidate

The former President said if this case will go DPP’s way, Malawians will vote again to choose a President and “at that point, I will be your candidate”.

“There will be no other presidential candidate than me; some people are demanding that I should retire, so that they become presidential candidate in the future election, I say no. I was elected at the national convention in 2018 and that I will continue to be the party’s presidential candidate in any future election,” said Mutharika.

“We need unity, one party, one leader. There is always one party leader, not two or three leaders. Those that aspire to become DPP President must wait, the time will come but for now accept that there is one leader,” he said.

Mulhako wa Alhomwe

“Mulhako” means “door” in Chilhomwe, meaning the association is the gateway to Lhomwe culture. The Mulhako wa Alhomwe association is headquartered at Chonde in Mulanje District, in the heart of the Lhomwe belt. The motto of the group is “Alhomwe, Alhomwe, noophiya!”, which means “Lhomwes, Lhomwes, we are here!”

The Mulhako wa Alhomwe cultural heritage foundation was officially launched in 2008 by former State President, the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, himself a Lhomwe from Goliati in Thyolo. The late Mutharika had earlier founded the DPP in 2005 as a breakaway political party from the then governing United Democratic Front (UDF) and his DPP became the new governing party following the breakaway.

Mulhako wa Alhomwe was aimed at reviving the lost heritage of Alhomwes, including its language, food, dances, and chieftaincy.

The group has very strong ties to DPP, and as a result, both scholars and ordinary Malawians have characterized this cultural revival as politically motivated, aimed at mobilizing members of the Lhomwe ethnic group to support the DPP.

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