In a move seen as being groomed for the top job, the Malawi President’s younger brother and Foreign Minister, Peter, will address the United Nations General Assembly this week.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa, said in a statement, faxed from New York Sunday, that Prof. Peter Arthur Mutharika, whom President Bingu wa Mutharika appointed as Foreign Affairs minister in the recent cabinet shake up, is leading a 12-man Malawi delegation to the UN General Assembly.
“Prof. Mutharika will address the United Nations General Assembly later this week,” he said.
Peter Mutharika: To address the world via UN lectern
Apart from addressing the world via the UN lectern, Nankhumwa said Mutharika would also hold talks with bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors on behalf of the Malawi Government.
Mutharika, 72, is being positioned to succeed his elder brother as president when the 77-year-old economist-turned-politician retires from the presidency at the completion of his two five-year terms in 2014.
Some sections in the ruling Democratic progressive Party (DPP) started campaigning for the Washington State University Constitutional Law professor soon after President Mutharika won with a landslide in the 2009 general elections.
But the pitching of Prof. Mutharika’s name in the succession plans has split the ruling party with some senior leaders grumbling whether the presidency is a dynasty that must follow a certain lineage.
Vice-President Joyce Banda, who was also DPP First Vice-President, and her deputy Khumbo Kachali, were expelled from the ruling party after refusing to endorse the younger Mutharika.
The two have since formed their own People’s Party (PP) although Banda remains state Vice-President since she can only be fired by Parliament through impeachment.
Former Justice Minister Henry Dama Phoya was also expelled from the party for similar reasons.
Reports indicate that over 40 of the DPP 140 MPs are aligning themselves to Banda’s PP with a similar figure rallying behind Phoya who has not yet announced his next political move.
To confirm the growing disaffection within the DPP with the succession plan, more and more DPP MPs in the 193-member Parliament have come out to condemn the lack of democracy in the DPP.
Just last week, the DPP-dominated parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee failed to block Phoya from retaining its chairmanship but the ruling party had to cause a deferral.
But the second try also confirmed more MPs were for Phoya’s leadership causing the DPP to cause a complete abandonment of the whole process to re-strategise.
Meanwhile, Peter Mutharika has come to the Foreign Affairs ministry at a dicey time. As Malawi’s chief diplomat, the younger Mutharika has to win back confidence among the Western donor nations who are abandoning the southern African country in droves because of bad political and economic governance.