Peter Mutharika rejects Bingu`s face on Kwacha

Malawi Foreign Affairs minister Peter Mutharika, brother to President Bingu wa Mutharika, has rejected a proposal by some members of the ruling DPP  to introduce a new currency note bearing president Mutharika’s face, Nyasa Times can exclusively reveal.

The young Mutharika who is being bulldozed to take over the leadership mantle from his elder brother at the expiry of his constitutional mandate to rule the country, is said to have warned that the move could backfire as the country is fighting to regain some economic ground in the global financial meltdown that has created forex and fuel shortage– pushing up the cost of living.

A delegation led by a senior traditional chief from Southern Region and included five cabinet ministers, two regional governors and other prominent ruling party cohorts, told the presidential aspirant in Lilongwe that new Malawi’s currency notes embossed with Bingu`s face would boost his 2014 election campaign as the country’s money will have a Mutharika face and name that would easily sway voters come 2014.

Muluzi was the last Malawi President to have his face on Kwacha

But the president’ brother vehemently rubbished the suggestions saying it is a bad move as the country is under serious scrutiny from both local and international pressure.

Currently, the notes bear John Chilembwe, Malawi`s first formal nationalist and freedom fighter, but the proposal is to put the incumbent at par with his predecessors Kamuzu Banda and Bakili Muluzi  who left their marks  on the national notes.

“The president has done a lot for this country and putting his face on the currency would be a good way to remember him as he retires in 2014 and offer  campaign platform ,” that is how the chief argued his case, according to Nyasa Times sources.

One of the delegates, recently appointed in Bingu’s cabinet opted for  a 1000 kwacha note imprinted with the President`s face and reprint 500 kwacha notes stamped with the face of  Kamuzu Banda.

“This move can attract a few sympathisers from central region and enhance our cause in the next elections,” the cabinet member said.

Peter Mutharika, hand picked as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 2014 presidential torch bearer, plainly told the meeting that the idea was presented at a wrong time when the country is under scrutiny from the international community for its poor human rights and economic policies.

Counterproductive

A Blantyre based political analyst Clever Ngwalo said yesterday the proposal was counterproductive and would not add any value to the political life of Peter Mutharika.

“If this idea was hatched during Bingu’s first term, may be it would have been given a chance but now that he is coming to an end of his political life and looking at the way the economy has faltered I don’t see any sane Malawian supporting the idea,” said Ngwalo, a retired teacher.

Ngwalo, who is also publicity secretary for Congress for Democracy (Code), said ordinary Malawians are already reeling under the economic pressure rising from the fuel shortages and escalating cost of goods and services and would not support self aggravating motives from the ruling party.

“I am sure those who went to see him are trying to book cabinet posts and other leadership positions in anticipation that Peter would take over from his brother, but this is Malawi and Malawians are unpredictable,” Ngwalo said.

 Gratuitous

A Lilongwe based economic said that will only put unnecessary pressure on the already dwindling economy.

“I also heard that there are plans to print new currency notes embellished with Mutharika’s face, but if that is true then it is very unfortunate because at the moment there is a lot going on with the economy so it is better to do things that would help boost the economy rather than wasting time with issues that are gratuitous,” said the economist who opted for anonymity.

President Mutharika soon after coming to power in 2004, directed Reserve Bank of Malawi to stop printing and circulating notes bearing former president Bakili Muluzi, who, ironically catapulted him to the corridors of power in United Democratic Front (UDF) before ditching it to form his own party, the DPP, once he settled in government.

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