For me, as I have always referred to our former leaders, Bingu wa Mutharika will remain President Mutharika, just like there I refer to President Bakili Muluzi and President Kamuzu Banda.
While we mourn the passing of President Mutharika, a few things need to be said, and said without trying to coat these with sugar. One is the press conference held by a few Cabinet ministers attempting to create an impression that Vice-President Joyce Banda is unfit to rule because “she left the DPP.” Such behaviour by the ministers clearly indicates how out of touch and despicable the leadership in DPP has been for many years now. The issue of who succeeds the president should he or she becomes incapacitated was sorted out between 1993 and 1994. It is a discussion this country had and concluded already. It is not whether an individual or a group of individuals likes it or not. It is not the question of political party affiliation.
There are already discussions in some quarters about charges of sedition against the Cabinet ministers that congregated at the unfortunate press conference where Joyce Bandaâ€™s eligibility was questioned. While sedition charges may be legally possible, I would also wish to accept the alternative by trying to understand the backstage problems the DPP has gotten into with the death of Mutharika. Firstly, the people who gathered at the press conference are not the most powerful in DPP. Someone sent them or they volunteered to take up the challenge because they could sacrifice all as they had nothing to lose. With Bingu gone, their own lives were worth nothing. Such a situation is precarious where an individual is so desperate. Secondly, the institutional illusion in DPP manifested itself. As a nation, we need to just remind them that times have changed.
The paucity of infection on the condition of the President the first 48 or so hours after he died should be an opportunity for all of us to learn from. It was perhaps easier for people in power to handle the death of President Kamuzu Banda as he died while not being the incumbent. For President Mutharika, this has not been so. He died suddenly and while his inner circle were only waiting for the 2014 succession plan to materialise. With his passing, many peopleâ€™s political dreams vanished and evaporated in thin air. Such being the case, the denial of the death has encouraged DPP loyalists to think of unconstitutional ways of succession.