Malawi analysts say Atupele’s decision to dump JB govt ‘not surprising’

Analysts have expressed no surprise in the news that the son of Malawi’s former president has resigned his post as a minister in current President Joyce Banda’s administration after announcing his own presidential bid.

Austin Atupele (AA) Muluzi had served as Malawi’s Economic Planning and Development minister as part of Banda’s efforts to reach across political divides in the southern African nation.

But as Nyasa Times broke the news Monday morning, Atupele resigned from Cabinet and told the President about his decision in person.

University of Malawi political scientist Dr Blessings Chinsinga said he saw AA Muluzi’s resignation coming.

Muluzi: Resigned as a matter of principle

“It’s not surprising but it was not expected so soon,” Chinsinga told a local radio.

Muluzi is a 2014 presidential candidate for the United Democratic Front (UDF), which once was Malawi’s governing party under his father Bakili Muluzi from 1994 to 2004.

“By accepting to be UDF national chairman (and presidential candidate), the battle lines had been drawn between UDF and PP (ruling People’s Party of President Banda,” pointed out Chinsinga.

Chinsinga added: “It’s very clear from the overtones from key officials of PP that they are not comfortable having him in government and that might have sent clear signals to Atupele.”

The political professor said Malawi is headed to “high competitive campaign” in the road to 2014 elections.

“We are headed from some interesting times. We should expect a heated political campaign going forward,” he said.

Executive Director for a Blantyre-based think tank, Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) Rafik Hajat described the resignation of Atupele as a move in the right direction.

Hajat says this will help strengthen the UDF which he is the chairman.

Hajat, like Chinsinga, observed that it is not surprising that the young Muluzi has resigned considering the way how the ruling PP officials conducted themselves against him at rally in Mangochi over the weekend.

The PP members attacked Atupele and his father, the former president Bakili Muluzi on Saturday in Mangochi at a rally addressed by President Banda and the Head of State also joined in the chorus of hitting Atupele, saying Mangochi people should note vote someone who does not come from the district and is not fluent in Yao in apparent reference to her own minister.

“And perhaps he does not feel he can discharge his duties properly by working with people who are against him,” said Hajat.

“So that’s why he has taken this honourable decision and made a dignified exit,” added the activist.

“And there is nothing wrong with this as he is exercising his freedom of association as enshrined in the Malawi constitution,” said Hajat

Hajat said it would be too difficult for Muluzi to occupy the post whilst members of the ruling party did not wish him well.

President Banda has accepted Atupele’s resignation.

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