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Get this Peter Mutharika, DPP: Too soon to get swagger back!

After three rather successful rallies by their presumptive 2014 flag carrier, it’s easy to see that DPP apologists have started feeling good about themselves again. The mammoth crowds Peter managed to pull to all the three rallies are being touted as a sign that the former ruling party is ready to bounce back to glory.

Their line of argument is simple: people said Thyolo is Peter's home turf thus the big crowd but how do you explain the multitudes that went to see the professor in Lilongwe and Mzuzu? Never mind that quite a few of them were actually bussed or trucked in.

You can also hear the tone of most of its leaders has mellowed somehow. The arrogance of barely four months ago is gone; DPP leaders have started siding with the people again. Never mind that at the peak of its power the people were of secondary importance. Nowadays DPP leaders are issuing statements urging government to address the break down in security forgetting that not too long ago the party was sponsoring thugs to openly visit terror on anyone perceived of being anti-establishment.

And there seems to be no shortage of news to put a smile on the gloomy faces of the DPP gurus who were ejected from office not through votes but fate. Most MPs who left the party in the wake of its leader's death are retracing their footsteps back to the blue party. Just last week, all but two of the MPs from Ntcheu who defected to PP announced they were getting back. I personally don’t understand why the party should be gleeful with such turncoats whose only reasons of returning are either the dreaded wrath of Section 65 or the fact that they found no joy in the new party.

While DPP apologists have the right to believe that things are looking up for them, they would do themselves a favour if they took a hard look at themselves. They should ask themselves why were Malawians grateful that fate intervened the way it did on that April day. If truth be told, although death is death and therefore always a sad affair, most people can’t imagine what Malawi would’ve been like by now if things didn’t change the way they did. Some people even describe the events of April 5 as "positive tragedy".

So the DPP would be wallowing in a fool's paradise to believe that Malawians would easily be forgiving to the party that turned them into nation of queues. That is why its leadership should be sensitive in how they package their message.

For example, Peter himself has been advertising his soft side lately, dropping apologies all over the place. But the blanket apologies would endear him to no one if he isn’t specific what he is apologising for. In Mzuzu, for instance, he reached out to victims of July 20. But he conveniently forgot that his brother said the 20 had died in vain and went ahead to throw beer parties for vendors while the country was still mourning. Is he ready to directly condemn his late brother's insensitive utterances and actions?

Nicholas Dausi has also been doing media circuits of late. This other day he was on a radio station where he said the people who were mis-advising the late president have left the party. But Mr. Dausi must be reminded that while he is entitled to his opinions, he doesn’t have the luxury of manufacturing his own facts. The DPP publicist is conveniently forgetting that his presumptive candidate actually headed the presidential advisory council that had senior DPP people including himself. Perhaps he takes one Bakili Muluzi's tongue-in-cheek take that Malawians have short memories a bit too seriously?

Secretary General Wakuda Kamanga also doesn’t want to miss out on the action. This other day he tried to exploit Malawians' largely homophobic psyche to whack President Banda's willingness to embrace homosexuality. He accused Abiti of kowtowing to the dictates of the West while conveniently forgetting that Bingu himself melted when Ban Ki-moon twisted his arms on the infamous incarceration of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. After that presidential pardon - coerced or not - does Wakuda really believe that Malawi would’ve handed down another "scary sentence" to another gay couple?

The DPP must accept that it is so damaged it needs serious panel-beating to bring itself back in shape. The first thing to do this is to bring confidence in the people that it is willing to delink itself from its late founder's undemocratic ways. If truth be told, the genesis of the party's (and nation's) woes was Bingu's undemocratic tendencies.

If the party still wants to be relevant it needs a new beginning with a new message. An all-inclusive convention is the best way to begin the rebuilding process. It has to elect leaders who can articulate the party's agenda while realising that Malawians will not give them a blank cheque. Its leaders must be willing to treat Malawians as people to be served and not as ladders to riches.

The DPP can still be useful if it wants to. It just has to re-invent itself. It must swallow its pride and accept the present realities. Otherwise clinging to empty pride can only result in a big fall.
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