United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi has said he is ready to put his party on an election footing but is evasive on the party’s relationship with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Election, saying he has a political wild card close to his chest.
The young Muluzi, whose father Bakili Muluzi ruled the country between 1994 and 2004 as the first post-independence multi-party Head of State — and is Minister of Health and Population Services in President Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet — told a UDF rally on Sunday at Manpower ground in Balaka Central East Constituency that he is set to make the party intellectually and organisationally prepared, united and resourced for the 2019 polls.
“UDF members should not be misled or distracted by cheap propaganda against the party. In the last elections, many speculated that Atupule would not contest because they claimed I was underage. Did Atupele not appear on presidential ballot, I did,” he said.
Muluzi failed on his first attempt for State House in 2014 when he finished a distant fourth.
“UDF will be there and more stronger in 2019 than it was during the 2014 elections, Ung’ono-ung’ono can assure you,” he said.
After 2014 elections President Arthur Peter Mutharika drafted Atupele Muluzi into his Cabinet, which was followed by some sort of a working relationship between the UDF and the DPP. Muluzi has been maintained since then.
Atupele championed the Agenda for Change that appealed to the youth with its progressive policies and there was hope that the UDF could reclaim its lost glory.
But Muluzi said said it was wrong to assume that UDF was in weakening, saying: “Politics is full of changes and it is dynamic.”
Muluzi said UDF will hit the centre-ground of politics and that he is up for doing it.
“Do you know the playing cards game or porker?” Muluzi asked the thousands who gathered at the rally. “There is a wild card called joker. I have picked a political joker and am keeping it close to my chest.”
He added: “ Yes I know there are journalists here, go report that I have a joker.”
Muluzi said convention would soon be called to set the route map of the party for the future, insisting UDF was strong.
He announced that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of UDF will be meeting this week to set dates for the national convetion to be held first quarter of next year.
“We need to start thinking of ideas on how we can best make our country better in areas of education, health, economy and it is those ideas which will form the party manifesto for 2019 elections,” said Muluzi.
UDF’s strength in Parliament has been dwindling since the 2004 General Elections. From 84 seats in 177-member Parliament in the first post-independence multi-party elections in 1994 to 91 MPs in 1999 when the number of constituencies rose to 193, the party got 49 in 2004, 16 in 2009 and 15 in 2014.
Muluzi took his members of Parliament (MPs) from the opposition to government benches when he was appointed in Mutharika’s Cabinet, with Lucius Banda, a former leader of the party in Parliament and Balaka North legislator, defying the move.
But speaking at the same rally, UDF ‘ former legislator and Cabinet minister Clement Stambuli who is the campaign director said the party will reclaim its strength and be great again.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :