Peter Mutharika engages in ‘duping tactics’, says Malawi law expert

A Malawian lawyer has observed that  opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting president Peter Mutharika shopping spree at Malangalanga and Chinsapo markets in Lilongwe on Saturday where he boarded a commuter minibus, is cheap political gimmick ahead of next year’s polls.

Mutharika stormed the public market to appreciate the pinch of the current economic crisis Malawians are going through and bought the cheapest relish bonya (very small fish) and a tin of maize at K3, 500.

The 73 year-old lawmaker, who is kid brother to late President Bingu wa Mutharika, has attracted mixed reactions for his use of a mini bus to go shopping in the market.

Ruling People’s Party supporters called the bus ride as “cheap politics and cheap populism.”

Is this bonya? Peter Mutharika in the market in Lilongwe
Is this bonya? Peter Mutharika in the market in Lilongwe

Government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu said Mutharika should not to forget that DPP is the source of the economic hardships Malawians are currently facing.

But DPP supporters hailed Mutharika for going about to appreciate commodity prices and economic hardships Malawians are facing.

On the other hand, a law expert, Bright Theu, noted that Mutharika’s going public commuter is “an act of owning up for their mistakes.”

Theu argued that when Mutharika was in a position of authority last year, “he showed his craving to assume a position that was not yet his.”

Commenting on Facebook on a post by activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire, the lawyer said Mutharika’s use of a presidential like convoy and even military helicopter “which tradition has it only takes the president, and none of his fellow ministers could ever fancy that privilege”.

“Exit that position he now goes public commuter. Exit that position and only then did he realise he had to apologise in Mzuzu. The best time for him to show sincerity was right in that position he previously occupied. But we know he was too proud to do so.”

Theu pointed out that that any act by Mutharika, especially done only close to 2014 and never before “should indeed be dismissed as cheap political tactics.”

He wrote: “Actually his trail so far simply demonstrates that he can’t be trusted. He is willing to dupe some Malawians with a show of humility which the longer history clearly shows he has not.”

According to Theu, the DPP president was at the behest of a perpetually and increasingly intolerant regime and never showed Malawians that he appreciated things were being done wrongly.

“And the reason for the stance he previously adopted is equally clear: all the wrong things were done as part of a scheme that would see him become the next president. To the extent that the bad governance served this end [Peter Mutharika] never saw it necessary to come public with any apologetic statements.

“When he only does it after leaving that juicy position where even fellow ministers had to treat him not as a fellow minister but as a president, and only close to 2014, his sincerity should be seriously questioned.”

Mutharika justified his visit to the market, saying he learnt clearly that “the economic hardship has really hit our people hard.”

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has said Malawi’s economic hardships resulting from donor-driven reforms would continue even if Malawians voted out the current Joyce Banda administration on the basis of high cost of living.

Malawi’s flagship daily, The Nation on Monday reported that EU Ambassador Alexander Baum Baum said even in Europe, governments implementing economic reforms have been voted out of power, but their successors have continued with the same “painful reforms”.

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