Episode 2: Chronicles of Atupele; Coming of age of ‘baby’
Love him or loath him. Atupele Muluzi has a place in the annals of history of Malawi. If you ask ten people in the streets of Malawi about him, be assured that all of them knows him albeit for different reasons. Some knows him as son of Bakili Muluzi, the political engineer.
There is a common belief among many locals that one day Atupele will lead Malawi, while the politicians from both divide try to downplay his influence. The MCP chastise Atupele publicly, while privately they are busy trying to ask him to join the Government. The Opposition knows that he is the asset, yet they fear that he might upstage them
Is Atupele a baby?
Whoever connived the term ‘baby’ for Atupele was meant to demean his persona, not fit to be in a public office. On the contrary, the track record in all the ministries he has led and the perfomance in the 2020 court sanctioned fresh presidential elections speaks volumes of a person so ahead of his peers in the political arena.
The 2020 fresh presidential elections was by far, the most difficult elections that the DPP has ever participated in Malawi. The political environment was very toxic coming from a backdrop of nullification of the previous election. The opposition campaign was structured in a way that the damage towards the DPP was irreparable.
Personally, I still hold the view that the conspiracy against DPP and APM was so huge. If we are honest, the five elections judges made a court ruling which was skewed to favour the opposition and made it sure the verdict delivered would mean the end of DPP reign.
This was further worsened with a systematic propaganda and unfounded allegations that were laid against the DPP. These included the allegations of assassination attempts, the spy machines, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, albino killings and executive arrogance.
There was the systematic onslaught of social media with fake news compounded by unrealistic campaign promises. The mainstream media was very polarized. The judiciary was dictating to parliament. To be honest DPP was on the verge of collapse.
All critical stakeholders to the Government were working against the DPP including the academia, the media, the church, social commentators, the CSOs, united opposition, the judiciary made strange rulings and to some extent the civil service and the military also seemed to have ganged up against it. The DPP was clearly divided and overwhelmed.
With all this background and what seemingly was insurmountable challenge for the DPP, Atupele accepted to be the running mate of APM on a ticket of the DPP. That also created a challenge within the DPP. Apart from facing hostilities from outside, he also faced an inside betrayal of people that thought should have been them.
To make matters worse, people close to APM made sure that he lives in fear and feeling insecure and hoard him in Blantyre, abandoning central region and staying away from the North. As the campaign was heating up, instead of fighting the new battle, the DPP continued to live in denial and false intelligence.
Some section believed that the supreme court of appeal will overturn the lower court decision. When that failed, there was another misinformation within the file and ranks of DPP that the elections will not be held on 23rd June 2020 but rather will be pushed to October, with all that APM never left for campaign trail, until it was barely days to the elections.
As part of the larger scheme, the fresh elections were meant to embarrass APM. In fact the plan was that in order to confirm the allegations of 2019 rigging, APM was meant not get more than 500,000 votes national wide. So the opposition outside went into overdrive with lies about the Government and promising the moon, while the betrayers within made sure misinformation and procrastination would help oust the DPP.
This left mammoth task for Atupele to stir the campaign into motion and reach out to Malawians. It’s until Atupele started the campaign trail, that one would note the belief from both the DPP and UDF supporters emerging and slowly building up. There is a school of thought that if the 2020 elections were held three months later, APM/AAM ticket would have shocked the world and emerged victorious. The problem was that the confidence started building up but it was a little too late.
Was Atupele the factor for the DPP votes in 2020?
Within the DPP there are people who argues that Atupele never brought any change to the vote tallying of the fresh elections, as the vote numbers for 2019 and 2020 elections were almost similar. However, there are simple and logical factors that they choose to ignore or deliberately omit.
First, is that in 2020 fresh elections, almost a third of the people that voted for DPP in the southern region did not go to cast their votes. This was owed to the fact that within the file and ranks of betrayers of DPP, they would be going and telling people that ‘musadandaule, munavota kale. Ngati tidzavotenso, kaya chaka chino, kaya chamawa, kaya 2024, mudzavotere DPP’ some even went to say ‘sakhani atsogoleri akumtima kwanu’. Another group openely opposed Atupele as a runningmate threatening DPP supporters that they were handing over the party to UDF.
Regardless, he soldiered on a campaign trail which not only surprised the distractors within the DPP, but those in the opposition at that time. In fact Atupele made them run for their money. When the opposition sponsored the stoning of DPP supporters vehicles in Ndirande which was meant to signify the end of DPP, Atupele pulled a fast one the following day by spending time in Ndirande with the very same people that were meant to send DPP packing.
Atupele was spot on MCP campaign promises that were unattainable and unrealistic. Atupele questioned their ability and experience to stir the country into economic prosperity. From my view point, this was his defining moment in politics despite certain quarters trying to down play his contribution, wisdom and the staggering votes he accumulated with APM. He covered the entire breath and length of the country, reaching out to DPP and UDF supporters, and also neutrals on the campaign trail.
It was the most difficult campaign to craft a clearer path towards fighting nepotism and corruption when the very same party he was representing had elements of the same. It was indeed a delicate balance for a man who hates corruption to the core. Atupele as far as I know, isn’t tainted by corruption which makes him a rare breed in our politics.
Is Atupele done and dusted?
As far as I am concerned, Atupele stepped aside from politics to concentrate into his business. But never be fooled that that’s the end of him. I don’t know whether these so called ‘friends of Atupele’ are sanctioned by him or not. But on a positive note, it’s a sign that there are people out there who still have trust and belief in him. Though on my political verdict, such moves are amateurish and have never yielded any results before or in the near future.
Based on his political journey thus far, the fierce fight done in 2020 elections, and the ability to steer clear of the theft, fraud, and plunder that has becoming synonymous with most politicians, it makes Atupele one of the most attractive prospects for Malawi.
You might wish to ignore this, but I know for a fact that attempts by all political parties was made to make him a running mate in 2020, and now the other side has been literally begging him to join the sinking boat that is the government, the cliché of DPP politicians are trying all they could to stop Atupele from joining the party in fear of what he might become.
The verdict is simple.
We haven’t seen the last of Atupele Austin Muluzi and I believe he has a date with destiny. Atupele should be underestimated at your own peril, he offers a compelling aroma for either as a president or as a member of the presidential team.
He is not only the clean politician, but he has shown that he is workaholic, smart and has undergone immense mentoring from different politicians. Never forget that the young Atupele Muluzi was also a darling of Kamuzu and that the name was given to him by the first president, whether true or false, that’s a subject of another day.
There is only one element missing in the puzzle for Atupele to finally get his hand on the Holy Grail, that he must become street smart, street wise, shrewd like his father, Bakili Muluzi, Kumtunda. Only then he will become unstoppable.