9 March 2018

Malawi: Atupele Shrugs Off Demand to Adbdicate Mutharika's Cabinet - Udf Convention Will Provide 'Ung'onoung'ono Roadmap'

United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi has said he is fully committed to President Peter Mutharika government where he is serving as Minister of Health and Population and shrugged off calls by Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda to abdicate his ministerial post to concentrate on party affairs ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Banda, who is critical of the status of his party's relationship with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said he expects Muluzi to "show commitment" that he indeed means his words to lead the party in the next elections.

He said UDF has "wasted time four years while [working] with DPP."

But speaking to Nyasa Times in a telephone interview, Muluzi said the party is yet to pick its torch bearer as his mandate like the rest of the party's leaders ends at the convention.

"The UDF has to go through a democratic process. We are now working towards the convention, where I have expressed interest to stand for re-election as president.

"I am completely committed to supporting the Government especially in my role as Minister of Health and Population, where I am working to improve the lives of Malawians every day," said Muluzi.

Muluzi said he is committed to ensure that the country maintain the economic stability gains achieved in the past four years under Mutharika leadership post-cashgate and withdrawal of direct budgetary support.

"We need to continue instilling hope for our people such that macroeconomic stability can translate to meaningful growth and deliver real jobs and security for our people. That is why I joined politics and we have a real opportunity to build trade and manage stability," he said.

Muluzi said he will be going to present the gains that the country has made under Mutharika leadership after cashgate in 2013 which includes, stabilization of Kwacha, political stabilization, confidence gained from the donor community and micro economic stability.

"The problem in Africa is that we are used to politics of backbiting and enmity we have to change this mindsets, what happens after convention that will be then and not now," said Muluzi.

He said politicians should stop crossing the bridge before reaching them.

"We have worked together with DPP for the last four years and we are still working together," Muluzi emphasized.

He said UDF convention will set the roadmap to the next year's polls.

In 2014 polls, dubbed Ung'onoung'ono, Muluzi at 36, as UDF presidential candidate, had a strong base among the millennials.

After the polls, Atupele joined the Mutharika government as Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. Later he was moved to the post of Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security then Land, Housing and Urban Development. He is now at Health.

The UDF has shrank from the party that ousted Malawi Congress Party (MCP) from power in 1994 to a party which can't even amass 20 seats in a 193 seat Parliament today.

But Muluzi strongly believes, now at 40 the Ung'onoung'ono is coming of age and UDF will be strengthened and back as a major party in Malawi at the centre ground of politics starting with 2019 polls.

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