United Democratic Front (UDF) two-day convention started Wednesday at Comesa Hall in Blantyre where Atupele Austin (AA) Muluzi was retained as party president unopposed and said he had gained experience not just to lead the party but the nation as well.
Hailing a “new beginning” young Muluzi said in a sober address that he will unveil a robust manifesto developing “a clear plan” as to how UDF will govern Malawi.
“As I lead our party for a further five years, I do so with that plan. I believe I have the experience and the knowledge not just to lead the UDF but our country as we move to the next step in our national history,” Muluzi said.
“I am not interested in feathering my cap and I hope that the team that will support me, understand that is not a path that any of us can take,” he said.
Muluzi, who is serving as Minister of Health and Poluation in the Peter Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, pointed out that Malawi has lost way too much already.
“We are facing some significant challenges. Challenges that have grown from the evillest of all human traits, greed. Greed is a very dangerous motivation as it seems to be always able to find new fuel to justify itself,” said Muluzi.
Muluzi said he shares the opinion of many in the country on the need to once again focus on the ideals that the UDF was once founded – democracy, development, peace and unity.
“Unity is the underlying principle upon which everything else is then built. We are a diverse nation, that diversity has in the past been seen as a key part of our identity, but today we seem to focus on a very small, if densely populated, part of the country. A key principle of development is to leave no one behind – to do that effectively in Malawi means ensuring that we have representation and engagement with every corner of our beautiful land,” he said in remarks broadcast live on private –owned Zodiak Radio and Television.
Mibawa TV also was showing the UDF convention live.
Muluzi noted that at the heart of any progress must be a sustainable economy, saying a great deal of effort has gone into stabilising the economy over recent years.
“We have seen the dividends through falling inflation and improved confidence. However, only a very small number of people have actually benefited from this,” he noted.
The UDF leader also promised to make job creation a priority in 2019 but said he could not promise of numbers.
“What I am not going to do is commit to the number of jobs in 12 months’ time – I am not sure that you would trust me if I did – I am going to commit to focussing on establishing the conditions so we can create the jobs together,” he said.
He said there will be candid plans to improve the hospitals and health centres, increase the number of teenage girls in school, to find solutions for reliable power, water and internet together.
“As we work together on these issues as a country, the benefits will become very apparent for everyone regardless where you are – however we must all make change happen – it will not happen if we sit idly on our hands and hope someone else will do it for us,” said Muluzi.
Muluzi said he was ready to deliver meaningful change.
“I love Malawi and I want to transform it. I have travelled my journey amassing the experience needed to lead Malawi. I truly believe that change is possible and that my focus on targeted investment in infrastructure, better connectivity and stronger relationships will mean that we can really become the Malawi we all dream of.
“Through this development we will deliver real, sustainable and valued jobs and deliver effective essential services for all – leaving no one behind,” he said.
Muluzi concluded his speech by urging UDF members to work together in “a single direction”.
“I would welcome the opportunity to lead you in that direction and guide us into once again governing Malawi. Together we can make change happen and establish a new beginning for our country,” said Muluzi.
Apart from Muluzi, secretary general Kandi Padambo won his seat unopposed and others who were unchallenged to their posts included vice president (North)-Victoria Mponela ,vice president (East)-Lilian Patel, treasurer general-Carlton Sichinga and deputy national organising secretary-Andrew Mkana.
Voting for the position of Central Region vice president has been suspended due to a stolen booklet with some of the candidates’ names that might affect the voting process.
Former President of the country, Bakili Muluzi, who is also founder of UDF, addressed the conference earlier.
Other notable dignitaries at the convention include ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s secretary general Greselder Jeffrey, vice president (south) Kondwani Nankhumwa and regional governor (south) Charles Mchacha; paramount chiefs Ngolongoliwa and Kawinga and Umodzi Party president John Chisi.
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