President Peter Mutharika claims he survived five assassination plots prior to his triumph in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Mutharika triumphed over Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera and the then governing People’s Party (PP) Joyce Banda to become the country’s fifth President.
Mutharika had a sour relationship with the PP government and his rise to power saw Banda leaving the country soon after the elections. Coincidentally, Banda, who is still abroad, is on record as having said her life will be in danger if she returns to Malawi.
Speaking during the consecration of Mzuzu Diocese Bishop John Ryan on Saturday at Mzuzu Stadium, Mutharika said he was “hunted like a criminal” during Banda’s rule, but Malawians came to his rescue.
He 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.”
Mutharika bemoaned lack of love and respect for one another in the country. The President wondered why there is so much envy and hate in the country.
He claimed there is a war of good and evil in the country, adding every time people fight for the good, evil fights them and every time people fight to take others to light, darkness and its forces interfere.
Mutharika asked God to grant leaders wisdom to make the right decisions, the courage to do what is right, and the faith to follow that wisdom.
Ironically, he continued to ignore the presence of Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, and PP acting president Uladi Mussa at the same function he preached about love and respect.
Chakwera is viewed as Mutharika’s biggest threat in the 2019 elections though their political parties have not gone to conventions to choose presidential candidates.
The two have expressed interest to run in the elections and there have been campaigns going on to endorse them.
Chakwera also came second in the 2014 elections that saw Mutharika taking over government from former Banda.
Since then the two have been considered rivals and Mutharika has been avoiding Chakwera during national functions.
Despite the consecration ceremony bringing politicians together, Chakwera and Mussa were denied VVIP status at Mzuzu Stadium.
The two opposition leaders were given seats in the MBC stand while others enjoyed VVIP status along with Mutharika, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, and Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati.
In his salutations, Mutharika failed to recognise Chakwera and Mussa. Instead, he recognised MCP vice-president Richard Msowoya but in his capacity as Speaker of National Assembly. Others that were recognised were his wife Gertrude Mutharika, Chilima, Kachali, bishops, ministers, and government chief secretary George Mkondiwa and Mzuzu City MP Leornard Njikho.
The only time Chakwera was mentioned at the ceremony was during presentation of his gift to Ryan.