Thursday, April 5, 2012

A fresh start for Malawi after Mutharika?

President Mutharika's sudden illness and his reported demise (still unconfirmed at the time of writing - 10:30pm Eastern Time, or 4:30am Malawi time) is obviously sad for members of his immediate family and friends as well as a few DPP loyalists. But this might be a good thing for Malawi as a nation.
Reading through the comments on Mutharika's sudden illness and reported death on social and online media, it is very clear there is very little love for him among the Malawi populace. For a man that won the 2009 elections so comprehensively, the commentary shows that he has squandered much of the public goodwill accorded him in the 2009 elections. In its place, the social commentary demonstrates much disapproval and hatred, as Malawians have had to suffer unprecedented hardships due in large part to Mutharika's arrogance and obstinacy.
So where does Malawi go from here? If the rumors of Mutharika's death are true or that he survives but comes back incapacitated and unfit to resume the reigns of power, Vice President Joyce Banda would take over according to the constitution. This would also position her ahead of the other presidential aspirants in the 2014 elections. This is of course assuming the DPP hierarchy sans Mutharika would allow a smooth transition and give up power without a fight, considering that Banda was expelled from the DPP way back in 2010. In a way, the current situation speaks volumes about the lack of foresight by Mutharika and his DPP stooges. By expelling Banda, they must have thought there would never be a situation such as the current one when the odds would turn in Banda's favor. Well, the odds have just turned and the DPP will be the main losers.
Fortunately, the DPP loss might turn out to be a great opportunity for Malawi to have a fresh start. The country can start mending fences again with countries and partners that have scampered off because of Mutharika's know-it-all attitude. There is likely to be a lot of goodwill for Malawi again and if we live up to our side of the bargain, perhaps we can start addressing the crippling economic challenges that have arisen over the last few years. The good thing for Joyce Banda is that this should not be difficult to do. And she will have a lot of support from Malawians. 
Of course all this will be academic if Mutharika makes a full recovery and returns to office. In which case, the first line of the Malawi national anthem becomes even more important now...'God bless our land of Malawi...' - because will need all the blessings to go through the challenges that will continue to face...

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