o 2014 will likely pit DPP's Arthur Peter Mutharika against PP's Joyce Hilda Banda. Both have Bingu as their common denominator. Remember Bingu handpicked Abiti to be his running mate ahead of the May '09 elections. It is also Bingu who silently encouraged the Peter Project although it is politically prudent for Peter to continue peddling the yarn that Bingu never really endorsed him.
Four months ago Peter had an upper hand because he had the whole president and government machinery behind him. Four months later fortunes have changed. There has been a seismic paradigm shift on the power-play. Peter is now on his own while Mama Joyce has the all-powerful government machinery propping her up.
But two years is both too little and too much time for political fortunes to change for both candidates.
This is how I mean: Two years from now, Abiti can squander the current euphoric goodwill if she makes a number of political and policy missteps. Former president Bakili Muluzi, the self-styled political engineer, famously said Malawians have short memories; a number of policy and economic gaffes can easily make people become nostalgic of Bingu's time and tilt the votes the Peter way.
Likewise in two years Peter can fail to shed the Bingu cloak around him and make Joyce Banda consolidate her edge over him. For Peter, Bingu is the albatross around his neck he has to ease down lest it slows down his sprint to the finishing line.
Be that as it may it is exciting Peter has finally come out of the shell. His first independent (of his brother) rally in Thyolo had an impressive turn-out. Never mind how the mammoth crowd got there and the fact that big crowds don’t necessarily translate into mammoth votes, ask Atcheya and JZU about their seminal Masintha rally ahead of May '09. The good thing, however, is Peter has fired the first shot; but, as the saying goes, keep the powder dry.