Monday, March 4, 2013


This blog post would have come over the weekend but there was need to commemorate Marty’s Day first with all the respect the day deserves. However, my urge was aroused on Saturday (March 2) when I saw pictures of DPP politician, Peter Mutharika, comfortably seated in the front passenger seat of a minibus and another one where he is shown standing in front of a fish stack.

For electoral purposes, this post will address the politician as Mutharika Peter Authur (just as his name will appear on the ballot paper next year)

I hear that after buying some bonya at Lilongwe Market, he proceeded to board a public commuter bus to some township west of the city.

The occasion reminded me of Zambia President Michael Chilufya Sata who some weeks after election victory travelled a 500 km distance from Lusaka to Livingstone on a minibus. Though the trip was characterized with hype, it did not surprise those who know Sata from long ago.

The two scenarios by Sata and Mutharika Peter lead us to a proper contrast that clearly separates elitism from populism politics.

Politicians who are populists connect with people not as a stunt but as a way of life. Nothing is rehearsed and nothing is forced.

It is a known fact that Malawians know Mutharika Peter as someone who is detached from the life of the masses. Someone who during his brother’s reign was untouchable even by his fellow cabinet ministers. I remember seeing several cabinet ministers bowing to him during the opening of Parliament Building sometime in 2010.

Mutharika Peter is not a populist so the best he can do is stick to his side of the game. Anything to the contrary is self-damage to his already weakening political campaign.

By trying to shift his elitist ideals into the populist sphere, Mutharika Peter has failed to recount the political trend as presented in the past three if not four years.

The moment the crowds make noise about your stunt, then it shows that it is not part of your normal life.Why should people be surprised when you buy things at the city's main flea market?

MUTHARIKA PETER AUTHUR: Does his gesture reflect his real intentions?
I am reminded of several times when I saw the current President, Joyce Banda, at Blantyre Market shopping for close to an hour. If she decides to do the same now, we will not treat her as acting outside her lifestyle. That is what she has been doing for the past 40 years.

Political publicity stunts are not intended to manipulate people but relate with them. Whoever told Mutharika Peter to buy bonya and board a commuter bus misled him big time. Mutharika Peter had to use something he is known for to relate to the plebeians.

No wonder he ended up sitting alone in front on a seat that accommodates two. If mixing with people was the basic intention of such a gesture, then he would have allowed another passenger in front.

So, for example, when Sata boarded a bus to Livingstone he was not doing something that people did not know him for. He was just reminding them that boarding a bus is something he has done so many times in his life. If anything, it just reminded of his stay in London many years ago where he worked as a taxi driver as he tried to make ends meet.

For Mutharika Peter, his gesture lacks smart calculation because he is doing something contradictory to his inner self. It is not his lifestyle and it comes only a year after his own god-shadow unleashed pure arrogance on the same citizenry when DPP was in power.

They were the same people who saw Peter getting Presidential treatment at a time he was just a mere cabinet minister. Those were the days when he used the Presidential motorcade and chopper when visiting various regions in the country to drum up support for his presidential bid.

In that minibus, people saw a law expert who failed to prove his competencies to Malawians in all the ministerial portfolios he held under his departed brother.

Now Mutharika Peter should understand that being a populist does not start when one is already grown up.

Picture this; Former Brazilian President Lula Da Silva was a shoe shine boy and grew up relating to the masses. Late Frederick Chiluba’s time as a bus conductor is what made him man of the people and it surprised no one when he continued speaking common language when he became Zambia President.

Zambia President Michael Sata is a populist not by design but tradition
Former Madagascar’s President, Mark Ravalomanana peddled ice cream in his youth and he never lost his ice-cream charm when he ventured into politics and criss-crossed the Malagasy Island on his personal helicopters during election campaign.

Similarly, Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales relates to indigenous farmers not because he wants their votes but just because he is one of them. He has spoken their language, cultivated coca plant with them and led their trade unions for years before he went to congress.

Even our own Joyce Banda mingled with mandasi business women from long time ago. No wonder others think it’s a big deal when she finds comfort with common men and women.

In short, when Mutharika Peter Authur squeezed himself into the front passenger seat of that minibus, he towed a strange lane and only exposed his desperation. When he bought bonya at Lilongwe Market, he never convinced anyone that he was going to eat the delicacy at home.

Someone said may be he was buying the bonya to feed his Rottweilers. I wouldn’t be surprised.


  1. do not hate people who have had it easy in life. such is life. you do not not become a people's person because you grew up in poverty. we have seen so many people from such backgrounds turning into monsters with power. and you write with conviction about Peter Mutharika's inner self. okay? are you a deity

  2. friend! How much were you paid to write this?find out what peter said was the reason for his action. he said he wanted to see what people are facing on the ground.

  3. This is beautiful piece of article i have not read for years. This is very true, our dear Peter has missed it all

  4. OH poor boy. what a pathetic piece. it crystal clearly comes out of anger, bitterness and bigotry. Hatred is an ugly trait- it must be hard bng you havn that much anger. it wl age you.