The May 21 2019 watershed elections have brought out some extravagant and unlikely campaign pledges from l political parties but the United Democratic Front (UDF) has been clear in its manifesto built on two pillars of delivering inclusive growth and governance.
In its manifesto launched at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe on Sunday by UDF presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi, the party says it would not promise what it cannot deliver within the available public purse.
Muluzi showed the sense of urgency with a message of “new beginning” focusing on areas that would bring inclusive growth through stabilisation of the economy and promotion of sustainable agriculture.
Governance experts and political commentator Mankhumbo Munthali in his analysis of the UDF manifesto told Nyasa Times that in comparison with other parties manifestoes , UDF does not promise the moon but rather works around recognising the current government efforts at policy, institutional and legislative levels, identifying the gaps in such a framework and then demonstrating how it would build on such existing efforts and gaps.
Munthali satted that while the UDF manifesto proposes a few new things, it largely shows how it would strengthen the ailing existing systems.
“Furthermore, while the theme of corruption does not come out as a stand-alone as is the case in UTM and MCP manifestoes, the UDF manifesto indirectly tackles the subject matter by emphasizing on strengthening financial management systems and institutions that monitor and constrain (rather than reward) the abuse of power and public resources,” he said.
Muluzi stressed that the way to root out corruption was to address it at the source, public sector, through reforms that would address loopholes that enable theft and fraud in the government.
The political commentator noted that another positive in the UDF manifesto is how it comprehensively addresses the question of reducing the existing (economic) inequalities between the rich and the poor through the various social protection programs that it would introduce.
“It’s emphasis on strengthening and creating feedback mechanisms between the people and the duty bearers by amongst other things strengthening decentralisation is welcome against the background of the continued lack of political will to make decentralisation work in Malawi,” Munthali said.
“The creation of opportunity centres for the youths as one of the avenues towards addressing the worsening unemployment is welcome,” he added.
The governance analyst said despite being a more realistic manifesto that can be ably implemented within a five year term, the UDF manifesto is “not definitive” (or specific) in some sections.
“It tends to make generalised statements of what it would do without clearing show how it would implement such promises,” he observed.
Again, while the UDF is on point to indicate that several of Malawi’s responses on corruption have tended to address symptoms rather than root causes, it’s promise that it would focus on determining the causality of corruption is misplaced.
“It’s unfortunate the UDF seems to feign ignorance of the root causes of corruption in Malawi when a number of studies and reports have been carried out in unearthing. It would there be a waste of government resources for the UDF regime – if voted to power- to devote tax payers money in determining the causality of corruption – which is already known,” he noted.
At the launch Muluzi, 40, the youthful presidential candidate among the eight contesting , was accompanied by his running mate Frank Mwenifumbo of Alliance for Democracy (Aford), as former first lady and mother to the younger Muluzi, Anne, was in attendance together with a possible First Lady Angella Zachepa Muluzi.
In new beginning, the UDF focus of inclusive growth and governance, plans to stabilise the economy, promote sustainable agriculture, improve infrastructure of transport, energy and water among others.
The manifesto also touched on inclusive education that would ensure no child leaves school before age of 15, abolish the quota-system selection to public universitiesand work to increase capacity in tertiary institutions instead.
On health, UDF has plans to construct district hospitals in the regions which would act as mini referral hospitals.
“First priority would be constructing district hospitals in the cities of Mzuzu and Blantyre which do not have any. The UDF government would make universal health care a reality and ensure that only those who cannot afford to pay for services do so,” he said.
With the launch of UDF campaign, Atupele cemented its intention to participate in the May 21 Tripartite Elections .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :