Atupele says Tuesday polls game changer for Malawi

United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi on Friday electrified the hype for the Tuesday elections when he drew throngs of supporters in the lakeshore district of Mangochi to give the party the last push to win the elections.

Accompanied by former People’s Party (PP) vice-president (Southern Region) Mohammed Sidik Mia, Atupele said the May 20 elections signify a milestone for Malawi. He described the elections as a game changer.

“Malawians go to the polls with a lot of expectations. These elections are a game changer. Malawians should speak through the ballot, Dzuka Malawi, Dzuka!” said Atupele, attracting a chorus of whistling and ululating from his supporters.

Atupele and Mia: Last push

Atupele and Mia: Last push

UDF supporters in Mangochi

UDF supporters in Mangochi

“The United Democratic Front’s agenda for change is well aligned with what Malawians want. We are in a position to shape our position and this should be done now,” said the 35 year-old presidential hopeful, the youngest amongst the 12 candidates.

Atupele said Malawi need a “credible, honest and accountable government,” which can secure the trust of its citizens by delivering on its promises.

“This government – which UDF is ready to form- must have a coherent vision; it must be willing to implement and communicate hard choices with the people whilst being absolutely transparent in the use of the people’s resources,” he added.

He said UDF has identified “a core set of levers for change’ “that will be implemented within the first 100 days of its administration to form the bedrock for consistently delivering the party’s vision for the next five years.

Atupele said: “We will appoint a credible and professional cabinet that will live within its means. It will comprise of honest and accountable leaders that have Malawi’s best interests at heart and render itself open to public scrutiny “

He said UDF will establish a permanent National Economic Planning Commission to oversee coherent policy planning and implementation.

The UDF torch bearer also said his administration will implement a self-imposed austerity programme which will include minimizing overseas travel by the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials.

He added that one of the party’s agenda is to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in financial management in all government sectors.

“We will revamp Malawi’s Public Finance Management, Procurement, Accounting and Auditing systems by making the reforms (and capacity building) a priority agenda for both the President and Cabinet.

“The President and Cabinet will routinely report on progress on these reforms to all Malawians, including Parliament within the 100 days. We will develop a government-wide monitoring and results strategy (championed by the President and Cabinet) and publish the first monitoring and results report that will show progress across each and every strata of government.”

Atupele said his government will empower Malawians and relevant institutions to hold government to account for areas where results are poor.

“We will strengthen oversight institutions, including the media, parliament and civil society and speedily bring the access to information bill to Parliament and sign the Table Mountain Agreement on Media Freedom promptly. We will also develop a clear and time-bound Road Map for the Constitutional Review process,” he promised.

Mia and UDF governor (east) Abubakar Mbaya

Mia and UDF governor (east) Abubakar Mbaya

Atupele also highlighted that his government will endeavour to create job, mostly for the youth and give benefits to the elderly and the vulnerable.

“We will allocate not less than 30% of all current vacancies within the civil service to qualified and competent youth and establish a public as well as private sector internship scheme for the youth with the first intake within the 100 days.

“We will establish a revolving Youth Development Fund to provide student loans/scholarships for public and private institutions, business start-up loans and other catalytic investments,” he said.

Mia, who resigned from President Joyce Banda’s Cabinet while serving as minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure in January this year, told supporters that Atupele was the right presidential candidate to steer Malawi to new heights.

“I am out of active politics, but I have decided to endorse Atupele to lead Malawi beyond May 20,” said Mia, an influential figure in the Shire Valley and among the Muslim community.

The official campaign for the May 20 election sends on May 17 Saturday and Atupele will barnstorm Lilongwe with whistle-stop meetings.

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