Atupele still embraces Malawi presidential ambitions: I remain UDF

Malawi’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development who is also a parliamentarian for the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) Atupele Austin Muluzi says his 2014 presidential ambitions remain intact despite serving in President Joyce Banda’s administration.

However, the son to former President Bakili Muluzi hinted his plan is dependent on the outcome of his party’s national convention which is slated for next moth.

Muluzi said he was only asked to assist in President Banda’s government but he remains a member of the opposition UDF.

“At no time have I said I want to be president of this country. All I have said is that if people want me to serve them I will accept and I have never said I have abandoned those plans,” Muluzi told Zodiak Radio’s Tiuzeni Zoonainterview programme on Sunday.

Atupele: I am UDF and still aspiring for presidency

The young Muluzi said the fact that he was serving in cabinet does not change his status as he remains a member of the former ruling party, UDF, founded by his father.

“I remain UDF and I feel there is nothing wrong in serving government because as a Malawian I have a responsibility to help fellow Malawians,” said the British trained soliciter.

“ I am in cabinet to assist President Mrs Joyce Banda to deal with the problems the country is currently facing,” said Muluzi, lawmaker for Machinga-North East.

He said before questioning his decision, Malawians must first appreciate the situation the country was in when President Banda took over following the death of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

“We never knew that things would turn the way they did. So when the President invited me to serve in her cabinet and help turn around the economy there was no way I could have refused because what I am doing is still serving the people of Malawi,” said the 34-year-old minister.

The youthful politician said it was high time Malawians changed their mindset that when one is in opposition party then he cannot  serve in government.

“That is not democracy,” he educated. “This happens in many countries. Look at what is happening in Zimbabwe where Morgan Tsvangirai [the prime minister] has his own party. In Kenya, United Kingdom and many other countries with strong democracies have the government and the opposition joining forces to serve their people.”

Commenting on recent directive by his party’s leadership to quit the Banda administration and concentrate on their party issues together with his fellow UDF Parliamentarian Ibrahim Matola (Mangochi North), Muluzi said he would soon meet the leadership to discuss the matter so that he appreciates their point.

A few months ago, the UDF legislature became a darling of Malawians, especially the youth when he launched his go-getting Agenda for Change campaign which received massive support across the country.

However, his appointment in the People’s Party (PP) government as a minister put off many of his followers as they considered it a huge betrayal with some describing him as political opportunist.

And recently there have been widespread guesswork that he is contemplating to resign from cabinet before January 2013 to revamp his ‘Agenda for Change’ ahead of the 2014 presidential elections.

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