Peter Mutharika and Atupele Muluzi: Birds of a feather?

“Malawi Government security guard, who was deployed to Bakili Muluzi, has found himself in an awkward situation for being used by the former president’s son, Atupele Muluzi. The bodyguard sustained a broken leg during a political whistle-stop tour organised by Atupele.” –The Nation, Saturday February 11, 2012.

Atupele Muluzi, despite two major drawbacks, has kicked off his 2014 campaign in style. He has successfully turned his first drawback – being deemed young and inexperienced – into an asset, by presenting himself as an urgent of change.

His exploits on this front are being rewarded. Everywhere he goes, he is followed by huge adoring crowds comprising of people from all walks of life. He is attracting mammoth crowds only seen at President Bingu wa Mutharika’s rallies at the height of his popularity in 2009.

Atupele Muluzi: Presidential aspirant

And what’s more? Atupele has managed to up the ante against the other strong 2014 contender – Mrs Joyce Banda – by going beyond reactionary politicking that has become a trademark of Mrs Joyce Banda and the Peoples’ Party (PP).

Atupele is peddling message: a change agenda that is somehow resonating with the masses despite the fact that his father, former President Muluzi, used the same gimmick, and ultimately failed to deliver. Young Pioneers and Youth leaguers were on his watch merely replaced by Young Democrats who “dealt” with his political opponents without getting apprehended by the police.

Somehow, and to his credit, the crowds have forgotten the “Zasintha” agenda of 1994 and are swallowing Atupele’s change agenda hook, line and sinker. Kudos to him.

But it is often the case in politics world over, that the most popular presidential candidates do not lose from lack of substance or strategy, no. Rather they lose by making big mistakes. And this is where Atupele may have recently been found wanting.

Atupele has not disputed using a government employee allocated to his father’s security detail on campaign trail.  On the contrary, and worrisome is that he seems to find this normal.

“There was a specific plot to harm me and the police were doing nothing to remove the thugs. BCA guards came to tell the officers at Bvumbwe to remove the thugs. The privileges accorded to the former president extend to the family. Even for the sitting president, security is not for the president only, but the family too,” he is reported to have told the Nation.

And this is directly related to his second and hardest draw back. Those that are against the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) campaigning for Professor Peter Mutharika base their case on the fact that the Professor (and DPP) are using state (public) resources by virtue of being the incumbent’s brother. Therefore, they want none of him.

Again, those against Atupele’s candidature are wary of his father (Muluzi Senior) resurfacing should Atupele Muluzi make it to the State House. In this regard, Atupele has reiterated that he is “own man” and he should be accepted as such.

Now if he runs to Papa or uses Papa’s privileges and bodyguards that are paid for by the tax-payer to conduct a campaign, what message is he sending? Is he really his own man? Is he, like Peter Mutharika, going to be using state resources to get to the state house?

If this is acceptable, what about those candidates and contenders whose fathers and brothers are not privy to using state resources? Is the playing field going to be levelled or is Malawi now a land of the privileged?

A word of advice to the young man: “Chibwana chimalanda.” Grow up, get your own security detail, be truly independent, cut the umbilical cord from your father and get on with your campaign. Or else you are no better than Prof Peter Auther Mutharika Thom.

If you cannot do this, FOTSEKI! Forget it!

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