Presidential press officer Mgeme Kalilani says Peter Mutharika is in a secret campaign mode to win the fresh presidential election tentatively scheduled for June 23 this year.
In an interview on Sunday, Kalilani said the President—who was publicly last seen when he presented presidential nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on May 7—will later join his running mate and United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi on the campaign trail.
The presidential spokesperson wondered why it is news that the President is not seen doing a public campaign.
Kalilani said: “Is it news that the President is not campaigning? Who says that? What do they mean? The candidate is President Mutharika. As a candidate, he is entitled to campaign in a manner and strategy he chooses and a strategy to make sure he re-claims his victory. He is doing it and it is working well.
“If his competitors are those that talked to you that they want the President to campaign as they approve, we are sorry the President’s campaign strategy is not aimed at pleasing his competitors. Is it right that the President should disclose his campaign strategy?”
During a campaign rally at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe on Saturday, Muluzi said Mutharika is currently playing the role of coach in a game. He said he will join the campaign at an unspecified date.
During a campaign rally held on Sunday at Kapiri Trading Centre in Mchinji, Tonse Alliance torchbearer in the forthcoming fresh Lazarus Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, challenged Mutharika to avail himself and be willing to face him should there be a presidential election debate.
He said: “How sure are we that he would participate in a debate if there was one? I dare him to come out, let us face each other and tell people our plans and strategies.”
But Kalilani said the President has nothing to prove to Chakwera.
Meanwhile, political analysts have said the President could be taking advantage of the governing party’s popularity not to actively participate in the campaign.
Blantyre-based political commentator Humphrey Mvula said the DPP has a strong machinery that can help it forge ahead successfully with a campaign, but argued that it is critical that the candidate should avail himself to the electorate during the campaign period.
He said: “The President has to let Malawians know what he has for them. There must be contact between him and people.”
Mvula said the political opposition political parties are taking the campaign seriously, visiting several districts in a day.landscape has changed as
On her part, Mzuzu-based political commentator Emily Mkamanga said Mutharika is not campaigning because he believes he is already popular in the country.
But she also said this is the time when he needs to be seen by people.
Said Mkamanga: “His absence may put off some supporters from rallying behind him.”
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political science Professor Mustapha Hussein said although Mutharika may be using a strategy that he might not want his rivals to know, his visibility is of great importance to his supporters.
He said: “Leaders should not only be heard, but they should also be visible to people who would want to see their candidates…”
In the campaign for the annulled May 2019 presidential election, Mutharika strategically outlined his campaign trail which he successfully carried out up to the last day of campaigning.