United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate in the next year’s elections, Atupele Muluzi, has expressed confidence to win the polls based on ideas.
A popular politician among the youth, Atupele who turns 35 in August this year, said “the next election will be won on ideas.”
He said the ‘Agenda for Change’ which he is trumpeting is “people-centred and in line with people’s needs and aspirations. “
“My role is to lead in this rich debate on the need to re-think our strategy for sustainable development. That conversation is relevant today as it was then, especially considering that next year Malawi will have attained 50 years of independence. I can comfortably state that Malawians from all walks of life, both young and old, have joined in this conversation,” he told Weekend Nation newspaper of April 6.
Change agenda manifesto
Atupele told the paper that UDF, which ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004 under his father Bakili Muluzi and 2004 to 2005 under late Bingu wa Mutharika before he dumped it to form his Democratic Progressive party, is undergoing “ rebuilding and rebranding”.
He said UDF will be announcing dates for its national policy conference to allow stakeholders to debate the party’s proposals.
“After reaching a consensus, our manifesto will be drafted and unveiled. Our vision is centred on delivering on a new agenda for Malawi. We are focusing on transformational change in four areas: The economy and growth, governance, social protection, peace and security,” he said
“The stability and growth of our economy is critical and we have some ideas around transformational change in this area,” said Atupele.
The UDF presidential hopeful said they have a comprehensive jobs plan being proposed.
“Our plan particularly focuses on private sector driven jobs and the creation of more blue collar jobs in Malawi. Our plan focuses on how to grow the key economic sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and mining.
“ We have proposals around delivering on reliable infrastructure, modern healthcare and education. Not forgetting natural resources, environment and land reform.”
Asked to explain what he said on a public rally recently that he will introduce free secondary education and how he intend to implement the policy, Atupele said it is one of the areas for discussion at the policy conference.
“This will be subject to debate and the delegates to the conference will either agree to any of the proposals or reject them. I am encouraged by the debate it has generated and we are listening carefully to the conversation,” he said.
Age is but a number…
Weekend Nation’s Anthony Kasunda quizzed Atupele on his take to critics who think his is young to be President and that he is riding in the back of his father’s popularity.
He maintained that he was his own man and mature enough to govern and lead the nation.
“I will be 36 next year and I am sure the framers of the Constitution knew that at 35 years of age one is mature. I am mature and I have been in politics now close to 10 years. I am ready to lead and the youth will drive the change in Malawi in 2014,” he said.
However, he said his agenda is not just about young people but that he will form a government of all talents.
“It is about young and old working together. Bringing old wisdom together with new thinking and new ideas. We intend to put together an inclusive administration that harnesses all talents,” he said.
Good governance key to recovery
Atupele is the first minister to leave Joyce Banda’s inclusive government, which was formed last year with the aim of achieving economic recovery and regaining donor confidence.
He was one of the key political figures roped into Banda’s government when she took over following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Asked that ‘if one argues that you were given an opportunity by the Joyce Banda administration to bring change and you threw in the towel by resigning, what would you say?’ he responded: “I was given an opportunity to serve as a minister. Change in the country is a whole different process.”
He was ressed on that he was behind the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) as then Minister of Economic Planning, and “do you think the plan is being implemented the way you would have loved?”
Atupele said President Banda “inherited a very difficult state of affairs and her administration has had to make some very tough decisions in order to recover our economy.
“These reforms have not been easy on Malawians, but we had limited choices. The reform measures undertaken were unavoidable and to ensure the success of these reforms they must be premised upon building State capability, accountability and responsiveness.”
He nonetheless pointed out that good governance is key to the success of the recovery plan.
“It can no longer be business as usual and all of government’s energies must be focused on demonstrating tangible results and deliverables,” he said, adding: “We must, however, stay the course. We have already made the tough choices and our primary focus must be centered on ensuring our economy recovers as soon as possible.”
Atupele said he remains confident that the country will overcome the economic hardships “through Gods grace and guidance.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :