Hon Folks, at his inauguration in mid 2014 President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) preached love and unity, extending an olive branch to the former President Joyce Banda. Later he had lunch with opposition leaders, promising an inclusive government.
That made political sense. MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and PP’s Joyce Banda had between them the support of 48 percent of the electorate, almost matching a combined APM support (36.4 percent) and UDF’s Atupele Muluzi (13.7 percent).
Unless there is a direct way of winning the hearts and minds of the significant minority which denied the APM camp the vote, it is hard to see how APM government can bring about the change necessary for us to grow our economy, develop our country and improve our living standards without seeking the buy-in of his political rivals as change agents in their strongholds.
Yet the professor, surrounded by a legion of advisors almost equal to the size of Cabinet, appeared to have dozed off on his promise until the olive branch withered in his hands.
JB, to whom the olive branch was extended, is now thousands of kilometres away from home, the first fugitive former Head of State of the multiparty era.
At first, her claims that the APM government was after her life sounded preposterous, a horrendous excuse meant to win the sympathy of her hosts and, probably, those paying her bills abroad.
Until Saturday when the President, in the presence of Bishops, accused the JB government of trying to murder him not once or twice but five times in the run-up to the 2014 elections which he won.
He was quoted (The Nation, Aug. 29, p.3) as having said: “When I fought to lead this country myself, when my life was hunted like a criminal and I survived five assassination attempts, most of you gave me refuge, solace and courage. You have been the fortitude of the persecuted as Christ wishes.”
Such a statement coming from the Head of State who has at his beck and call the Army, the Police and an easily excitable bunch of DPP Cadets, has the potential to make the overzealous among his supporters hate JB with a passion. Some could even seek to avenge his so-called persecution.
But shocking as it is, the consecration of John Ryan as Bishop of Mzuzu Diocese was not the only occasion where APM, who enjoys immunity from prosecution by virtue of his office, has portrayed JB as a murderer baying for his blood.
Sometime back, he made a claim that an attempt was made to assassinate him while in police custody in Lilongwe. That acidic claim was served with a dressing of a drama performance in bad taste.
There was an attempt to make a shrine of the police cell by painting it DPP colours. That could make APM a hero like Nelson Mandela who served time at Robin Island or Kamuzu Banda was detained at Gweru Prison.
Yet the arrest was only made after a duly instituted commission concluded that APM and others in DPP and government had a case to answer for allegedly trying to thwart the ascendancy of JB, who was Vice-President, to power following the death of Bingu in April 2012.
Government, which was prosecuting the criminal case, decided to abandon it when APM became President and therefore immune to prosecution. His co-accused also got off the hook because it would have been awkward to continue prosecuting them for a crime they had purportedly committed together with the President.
If the incarceration, despite following the due process, is being turned into a rallying point for a hate campaign against JB, could this be a sign of persecution mania?
Will someone also kindly explain why the leader of our multiparty democracy preached love and respect for one another while, at the same consecration ceremony, he completely ignored the presence of Chakwera, leader of Opposition?
Charity begins at home, they say. The people that APM is leading today in 1993 vehemently rejected the notion that multiparty means war. Pity that he appears determined to prove Kamuzu Banda’s philosophy of doom true. n