Malawi’s youthful presidential aspirant, Atupele Muluzi, has vowed to continue resistance against the crackdown by the Bingu wa Mutharika administration, saying he will pursue his ‘agenda for change’ even if it means being killed.
Police mounted roadblocks in Lilongwe on Sunday and fired teargas to prevent Atupele from addressing his road show political meetings.
In Area 24 at Ngwenya Primary school ground, Atupele was made to abort his meeting as he was about to address the mammoth crowd when police fired teargas and ammunition, confirming fears that the regime has made the son of former president Bakili Muluzi, their number one priority in the crackdown.
But the 33-year-old lawmaker defiantly proceeded to address meetings in some parts of Lilongwe despite police attacks. He spoke to crowds in Likuni and Nsiliza areas where he vowed not to give in to “ cowardly intimidation”.
He said the attacks he has been getting from the regime through ruling DPP youth militia and political policing, has “heightened our commitment” to the change agenda.
“We cannot give up now,” said Atupele. “We won’t be scared or cowed into submission by these terror tactics.”
He said Malawi is currently a nation full of fear and in deep stress.
The UDF deputy leader in parliament also took a swipe at government for arresting a leading rights activist and government critic, John Kapito, allegedly for possession of foreign currency without valid documents.
Atupele said the arrest of Kapito, who chairs the state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), was politically insipired.
“The arrest is politicaly motivated designed to instill fear and panick in the ranks of the crticis and activists,” said Atupele. “We must remain resolute against oppression.”
Kapito, an outspoken critic of President Mutharika, was due to leave for Switzerland to present a paper on the human rights situation in Malawi. He has been released on bail ad charged with possession of seditious material despite a search at his residence yielding nothing.
Atupele said Malawi is now a “polarised” nation as the Mutharika administration is “failing to find lasting solutions to both the problem of fuel and forex in the country.”
He said statements from those in authority is “lacking in giving hope to Malawians.”
Said Atupele:“The ambitious strategy to turn the country from a predominant importing economy as opposed to an exporting remains a song that has lost its tune. Small businesses are on the verge of collapse and many have already shut down.”
The presidential hopeful also said the nation is also failing in terms of service delivery and in the delivery of public goods and services.
“Good governance is key in this area and when we are failing in governance public service delivery is also affected,” he pointed out.
“For example since 2004 this government has done very little to address the problem of accessible portable water in the rural areas,” he said.
“Schools have no learning materials, government offices have no stationery. The supply of essential drugs to our hospitals has been largely dependant upon our donors,” Atupele told the crowds.
“As I speak now a lot of Malawians are losing jobs through retrenchment because most of the companies in this country have very little to produce. Production is very low because they can’t buy raw materials. We do not have raw materials here. Now to say that you do not need forex is ignorance of the highest order,” he said.
Atupele said if the leadership wants to use home-grown strategies to put back to life Malawi’s ailing economy “it is must avoid experimenting on the peoples’ lives. “
He said: “We must not overburden our poor people with heavy taxes because we want to make up for our failures.
“Why are we putting tax on everything without regard for the poor and yet at the same time government cannot devalue the kwacha saying it does not want to punish the poor? This to me is the same as saying kuti ndi kuphe ndikuti ndikudule khosi usankha chani (to kill you or cut out your neck what would you choose).”
He said much as the country can be independent, Malawi is a small economy and still needs donor support.
“We need a long term strategy if we want to become economically independent. Bigger economies than Malawi still depend on donors and Malawi is far from that dream,” he said.
Atupele is hawking his ‘agenda for change’ nationwide as he aspires to seek nomination in the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) to become its presidential candidate in 2014 elections.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :