The recent revealations about malawi’s former head of state, the late Bingu wa Mutharika and the amount of wealth that he left behind has shocked the majority of malawians. However, more shocked at this time is the party that he left behind, the democratic progressive party (DPP) and his young brother Peter mutharika who is hoping to be malawis next president in the forthcoming general elections.

According to malawi media, quoting sources from the affidavit by Yeremia Chihana of YMW property investment, the former head of state left an estate worthy mk61 billion at the time of his death in 2012 which he kept in foreign bank accounts. This is far from the mk154 millon he had when he got in power in 2004. This suggest that in his 8 year rule Bingu moved from a millionare to a multi billionare. Well the man was a  president after all one would say, However the worrying thing is, it is not accounted for how he got such a huge amount of money .


Mutharika brothers , the late Bingu and Peter

From a marketing perspective this blogger wants to take a look at how the recent issue will affect the late president young brother and his party DPP. Let it be known that Peter and the DPP are on the market at the moment. Although official campaigning hasn’t been launched, the party has been trying to sell itself to malawians, enticing them to vote for the party back in power in next years elections. This is a crucial time and any of these issues can massively derail them in their campaign

One American proffessor at University of California David Aaker in 1991 came up with a model that could help any brand (in this case Peter and DPP) work out how best they maximise their value in the face of competitors and customers as such. The brand equity model looks into a brand in four dimensions namely; its awareness, perceived quality, brand association and brand loyalty. It is no doubt that in terms of brand awareness DPP and Peter are well known. They were up until now one of the favourites to win the presidency in the next general election

Perceived Quality

The revelation of Bingus finances has put a mark on how people perceive DPP. As the party that was in power, these revelations would represent a party that did not put good control and monitoring measures government money which could have created loopholes from where the former president could have done his allegedly dodgy deals.
Suppose one would say, this issue need to be proved before Bingu can be called a thief-however one can never take away the fact that peoples confidence in DPP has been shaken. Their image has been hit by this revelations.
The many economic hardships Malawians faced during Bingu era and which the effects are still up to now, are painful enough to suggest that they will be forgiving to DPP and Peter if the allegations are to be true. Peter might pay the price for having a Mutharika name. If allegations will come true, not many Malawians will trust another mutharika with the government money.

Brand Association

There have always been concerns on the growing levels of corruption in Malawi. If Bingu really got the money through dubious means, the mutharika name will forever be associated with corruption. Any mention of the name will bring back memories of mk61 billion .

DPP may find itself at the crossroads as it cannot start disassociating itself from Bingu now. The party is built around Bingu values and legacy. They have already had their convention so can never run away from the mutharika name (in peter) representing them as the presidential candidate. All they can hope, is for all this to prove the money legitimately belonged to Bingu. However even if it proves the money was stolen, DPP will have to restategise and rescue their campaign. Saying sorry and rebranding the party as the “new dpp” are just some of the ways they can revert from this disaster.

Dpp is guaranteed that they will have some loyalty, based on malawi electoral profile where people can vote according to tribal lines. However it is the swing votes that wins you the presidency. If DPP and Peter cannot manage this properly they are bound to be punished for the sins committed by their father Bingu.

If I was a DPP strategist, I would accept that all is not well In regards to the party image. But I would have hope that not all is lost. Bingu hasnt been proved that he stole the money and a year is a long time in politics, a quick repositioning of the party is very much possible before the elections next year.

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