Atupele Austin Muluzi, the 33 year-old son of former President Bakili Muluzi who is also Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in parliament, says he wants to run for president. That, at any rate, is good news. The nation has a shortage of brilliant young minds eager to step forward and offer themselves for leadership at the highest level.
The youth of Malawi have left politics to the same old folks who keep doing the same old things yet everybody cries foul when we see the same old negative results. We need a new philosophy in the way this country is governed. We need presidents who will do away with those age-old tendencies of megalomania such as driving a convoy of 32 cars, constructing themselves opulent palaces with inexplicable wealth and paying their wives millions of kwacha drawn from public funds for charitable work.
But what does Atupele have to offer? I have combed through his speeches and, apart from distancing himself from his father’s legacy, I have found nothing convincing by way of policy details as to what he would do differently and how he would do it. He says he has been MP for seven years, but he does not say what he has achieved during that time.
Is Mr Muluzi aware that we have no drugs in hospitals? What would his presidency do to ensure that poor people do not die due to this drug shortage? Is he aware that there is no forex in Malawi? What would he do differently to make sure we have forex? Is he aware that we have the most intermittent fuel and electricity supply in Africa? What would he do to see to it that we are back to those days when we could drive in at a filling station assured of filling one’s tank?
Before Mr Muluzi has told us any of this, we hear he is meeting the Mutharika brothers behind the curtains. These are the brothers who have taken Malawi from a country with an endless supply of fuel to unprecedented scarcity; with an assured supply of forex to almost no forex; from peace and calm, law and order to murders that are being paraded as suicides by the police.
One Noel Mbowela, said to be a political analyst, defended this that in a democracy, it is not wrong for politicians from opposite sides to have meetings either in public or in private. Nobody can dispute Mr Mbowela’s assertion, and nobody says Mr Muluzi has no right to do this. But for somebody who claims he will bring change to be sitting all comfy behind the curtains with forces of dictatorship – that leaves me really worried. Mr Atupele Muluzi cannot be a serious agent of change if these allegations are true.
Imagine Mitt Romney of the United States sitting down to share a cup of tea with Barack Obama in secret at the White House. Would the Republican voters forgive him? Would he win the primaries due early 2012? Clearly not. We can theorize all we want about what should happen in a democracy, but practical implications shape out differently from theory.
What I would expect from somebody of Mr Atupele Muluzi’s ambitions is to be a genuine agent of change, not somebody desperate to get into the seat of power by making a Faustian Bargain, selling his soul to the devil. I would expect him to sell to the nation his ideas, not simply singing the song of change without the substance to back this up. If truth be told, what, really, makes Mr Muluzi qualify for president apart from being a son of his father? He may distance himself from his father’s shadow, but until I hear what ideas he has, I will not be persuaded otherwise.
As he puts together something of substance to tell this nation, I encourage him to hold fort and push forward to offer himself for leadership. However, he should desist from mixing with people whom many think have taken this country backwards. If that is the change he intends to bring in, he should forget making it to the State House.