Atupele critique Mudzi Trust, FISP: Straight Talk interview

United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Austin Muluzi has said his government will have a clear social protection policy and will not abandon existing programmes because their predecessor is no longer in power.

The initiative was launched by President Joyce Banda to change lives of the rural communities.

She said the Mudzi Transformation Trust will be a private sector-led initiative to which both local and international private sector is invited to invest in.

But Muluzi told Straight Talk interview programme on Capital Radio on Tuesday that the Mudzi Transformation Trust is “replicating many other social programmes the Malawi government has been rolling out for years.”

Atupele Muluzi: We need to empower the poor not the privilege sector
Atupele Muluzi: We need to empower the poor not the privilege sector

He said “because those programs were initiated under different governments then there are abandoned.”

Since its formation, the Trust has come under severe criticism as an initiative duplicating of existing government projects and that it will drain public resources and overburden taxpayers.

“To me the Mudzi Transformation Trust does not make sense because we are failing to roll out the existing social protection programmes throughout the country like the cash transfer programme, village loans and housing scheme and public works initiative,” Muluzi said.

Muluzi  also criticized the Farm Input Subsidy Program, saying despite Malawi investing K132.7 billion (about $442.3 million) into the programme since 2005 “ the system is not working for the poor people.”

He said “FISP is being skewed to benefit not the poor but the rich because of corruption.”

About 1.9 million Malawians need food aid this, according to Famine Early Warning System.

Given that Fisp is essentially designed to target the poorest of the poor in society, the majority of the starving 1.9 million are likely from the very segment that the subsidy targets. Last year, 202 000 people were on food relief programme.

Agenda for change

Muluzi said his government’s programme stem from the ‘Agenda for Change’ direction, which UDF promulgated in  2011 at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

Muluzi  disclosed that UDF will hold its policy conference in October  to look at guidelines in job creation, food and social security, health, energy and water, among other issues.

He said his party’s policy conference will focus on four transformative areas of Inclusive Growth, Governance, Social Protection, Peace and Security.

“We want to give people their power through the devolution of powers from the central to local government so that people make decisions that affect their lives. I know this is big subject and many countries in Africa are doing it different ways. In South Africa for instance, they have the Premiers and Zambia is doing it their own way,” he said.

“We have now put together some clear policy proposals which we will take to the conference,” he said.

On expanding Malawi’s weak export based, Muluzi said there is need for the country to grow the domestic economy by own producing goods for the local market.

“It also does not make sense for the country to import tomatoes, potatoes or maize. Let’s empower people to produce these in large quantities in areas where climatic and soil conditions are favorable. The One Village One Product (OVOP) comes handy here.

“For instance Kasungu may concentrate on tobacco while Mangochi may grow something else,” the UDF leader said.

He also said there is urgent need to reform the public service saying it is not economically active because of policy confusion.

“There is no clear job strategy because we need to create sustainable jobs for our people. Of course not everybody can be employed and that is where our government’s clear social protection programmes will cater for other people so that they contribute to our socio-economic development,” Muluzi said.

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