UDF 2014 presidential aspirant Atupele Muluzi on Sunday conducted a whistle stop tour of Balaka district in the Eastern Region where thousands of enthusiastic supporters gathered at four venues to hear his message of delivering “transformational change” as he advocated for balanced national development.
The 34-year-old politician addressed public rallies at Phalula Trading Centre, Balaka Boma, Chembera Trading centre and Ulongwe Trading Centre where rural development as a means to ending poverty was the dominant agenda.
Soft-speaking Atuple told crowds that he will continue to be articulating issues to help Malawians make informed decisions come 2014 elections other than do uncivilized politics of tongue-lashing at the podium.
Atupele said he was aware of the main challenges facing the rural masses and outlined proposals targeting Balaka districts such as improving access to agriculture markets through the building of good road, saying he will ensure there should be a road netowrk from Balaka town to Mangochi Boma through Chilipa which is an agricultural area.
“ There is tobacco farming, cassava, cotton, groundnuts and tomatoes most of them are rotten before they reach the markets due to poor roads,” he said.
“Agriculture should be run as a business and that is the only way we can help end poverty in the country through the creation of jobs (building a robust agri-industry) and availability of food right at the household level,” he added.
He also said he would ensure the government implement the rural electrification programme to connect power to rural industries which was already started during the UDF administration.
Power to people
Atupele said he wants the people to reclaim their power from the people they put in public offices, saying this can be achieved through decentralization which has of late been neglected.
“Ending poverty will remain a pipe dream if the majority of our people are denied the right to participate in the democratic process and development of their areas. The resources at the district level must be put to good use by ensuring that they benefit the local communities and that they are involved in the decision making process hence the need for local government,” he said.
Atupele said local governance is the catalyst for rural development.
“ Power to the people should not just be slogan,” he added.
He also conceded that during the UDF reign “there were some areas that “we did not do well and there also those that we performed very well” and pledged to “build on our good foundation and deliver all our pledges because this is a new UDF and it is no longer business as usual.”
Speaking with confidence while putting on a cream hut, spotting a yellow neck-tie and a grey suit, Atupele said: “ The new UDF is more than prepared to provide new leadership.”
He also disclosed that the UDF will come up with be roadmap and policy to build a new agenda for Malawi.
“We want to encourage a public discussion on our policy proposals so as to ensure inclusiveness and ownership by all stakeholders. We would like Malawians to be informed early on what the new UDF stands for and what it aims to deliver whilst in government.
“We want Malawians to make informed choices in 2014 based on policies. These policies will be tailor-made to reflect the philosophy of the UDF as a party.
‘’ You don’t start when you are already in government. The people of Malawi are no longer patient, they need action and not rhetoric that does not match with action,” he said.
He added: ‘’We intend to deliver on inclusive growth and with a clear focus on transparency, accountability and fighting corruption. We aim to deliver on equitable resource allocation across all regions, wealth creation and employment opportunities in Malawi. We aim to introduce new social protection policies that provide safety nets for the most vulnerable in our society whilst providing peace and security to our people.’’
He also said he will work to understand the desire of the youth “not to be prisoners of the past”.
Atupele said Malawi needs to move forward together at the same pace and that “no Malawian should feel excluded, undermined or deprived.”
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