Atupele is 'too young' to be president -Mvula

A fresh wave of leadership Tsunami has hit the United Democratic Front (UDF) further threatening to tear the former ruling party into pieces.

The bone of contention now is the son to former Head of State , Atupele Muluzi,  with senior party official saying the lamaker is too young to contest for the presidency at the party’s convention next year.

Speaking in Zodiak radio’s popular program, Tiuzeni Zoona, UDF vice president Humphrey Mvula stressed that Atupele does not qualify to contest because he is below 35.

“The party’s constitution is clear that anyone wanting to be president or presidential candidate must be 35 or above on the day of the convention. Atupele does not qualify and will not qualify. We are not targeting him but he is too young and after all the constitution was written long time ago before he surfaced,” Mvula told the program’s host political editor Pilirani Phiri.

Mvula: Atupele is young. Photo; Times Group

Mvula said the former President Bakili Muluzi must discipline his son to know that there are structures in the party which he must follow.

“If he is under age he can go through the youth wing and will later qualify but not shot cuts. In short, Atupele does not qualify to be president or presidential candidate of UDF,” said Mvula.

Asked if this is as a result of the bad blood between the former president and the current UDF leadership, Mvula said the issue should not be personalized to Muluzi because he is no longer in the party.

“We appreciate what Muluzi did to UDF but we can not allow another mistake to be orchestrated by him like the way he mortaged the party to MCP in 2009. After all, Muluzi is yet to hand over assets and money of the party he can not just hand over the position,” he attacked Muluzi, once close allies when Mvula was used to be reffered as strategist of UDF or ‘Mafia’.

But Atupele Muluzi, speaking calmly in the same program said he was not vying for the presidency or chairman but to be nominated as one of those who will contest for presidential candidate in the 2013 convention when he will be 35.

“I am now 33, I know and next year I will be 34 so that convention all I need is to be nominated to contest as presidential candidate in 2013 convention when I will be 35 because our convention states that the presidential candidate is elected a year before general elections,” said Atupele.

Atupele: I am my own man

“In 2014 I will be 36, so in as far as age is concerned I qualify. By the way, if they insist am underage why then bother about me? All I know is that am ready to offer myself to the people on a platform of change,” he told the radio.

When the host asked him what would happen if during next year’s convention when he will be 34 delegates decide that who ever is elected President is automatic candidate, Atupele said then there should be a constitution ammendment.

“If they decide to do that then two thirds of delegates must approve that,” he said.

Asked if he is not being influenced by his father, Atupele said he is his own man.

“I am not Bakili Muluzi. I have my own house, he doesn’t tell what to eat or do. So people should look at me as Atupele not Bakili Muluzi,” he said

Drawn to comment on his private life, he said he is married to former MP Angella Zachepa and that they have two children.

“As someone seeking public office let the public know do you smoke chamba or drink beer?” Asked the host, Pilirani Phiri

“There is none I do on that. Look, I had a decent upringing and I learnt to take good care of myself at an early age,” the British trained solicitor said.

Two months ago Atupele launched his bid to lead UDF at a function where thousands of people came to offer their support for the quiet but intelligent young Muluzi.

He has also been addressing crowds to advance his agenda for change.

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