Is DPP on the rise?
Acting president of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika has said the turnout at his rallies across the country is a clear indication that the party commands support at grass-roots level and will win big in 2014.
Peter, brother to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, has of late been holding political rallies across the country and most of them have been patronised by multitudes of people.
But political scientist Blessings Chinsinga of Chancellor College has said the crowds should not hoodwink Mutharika into believing that he is popular as the people surrounding him right now are just there to plunder his money and resources, only to dump him later.
He said Mutharika is vulnerable, does not understand Malawian politics and the best thing for him to do is to leave politics and concentrate on his career as an academic.
"Peter Mutharika is not a politician. He doesn't understand Malawi politics. I think people surrounding him would just like to use his resources. He is vulnerable. It's high time he [Peter] left the political scene and went back to the lecture room."
He advised the DPP not be taken away with the attendance at Mutharika's rallies, arguing that it is only cosmetic, as people have different reasons of attending such rallies.
"It's very difficult to understand that many people have been going to Mutharika's rallies, looking at the fact that people were complaining about DPP's mismanagement of state affairs not too long ago.
"But I think the majority of people that are attending his rallies are going there just to see him; they are curious to find out how he is continuing with politics after Bingu's death," Chinsinga.
Chinsinga said the crowds can be misleading and he cited huge crowds that attended rallies organised by Malawi Congress Party [MCP] and United Democratic Front [UDF] prior to 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections.
"People should remember that the MCP / UDF alliance attracted many people prior to 2009 elections but their performance in the elections was dismal," Chinsinga said.
But Mutharika, in an interview on Thursday, said the large turnout during his rallies is a clear indication that the DPP is still intact
"I had been going around, meeting some people in all regions and at all levels. I'm not surprised by the large crowds; in fact, I am pleased [but] I know that some people are surprised," he said.
Mutharika further said he felt he has what it takes to lead Malawi as he has held top positions in reputable international bodies before.
He said he was president for International Association for Third World Lawyers and African Lawyers Association, among others.
Regarding his endorsement as interim president for DPP just hours after the death of the former president, Mutharika said he accepted the role as a matter of duty.
"They asked me to work in acting capacity and I agreed to do so. It wasn't easy at that time as I had just lost a brother and a very close friend.
"But I thought I had responsibility and I will exercise it up to the time we go for a convention and I am sure I will stand unless something happens and I change my mind," he said, adding if he loses he will support the winner.
People's Party (PP) campaign director Kalazi Mbewe has said the party is not shaken by crowds that Peter Mutharika has been drawing to his rallies.
"We are not shaken by the crowds. As a party, we are now going flat out to all the parts of the country to explain President Joyce Banda's policies. We will start this by meeting all regional committees and other structures to now concentrate on strengthening the party," Mbewe said.