Youthful United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential hopeful for the forthcoming May 21 elections, Atupele Austin Muluzi, Thursday surprised many when he presented his nomination papers after rife rumours that he would be entering into an electoral alliance with a number of speculated parties including the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Muluzi, who also resigned Wednesday as parliamentarian for Machinga North East constituency in line with constitutional order, according to his personal assistant, was accompanied by thousands of excited UDF supporters clad in their yellow and blue colours.
Looking seemingly confident, Muluzi said in his speech that he was determined and “experienced enough” to lead Malawi.
He said: “Through experience, I have realized that it is possible to steer this nation forward despite belonging to different parties.”
Amidst the deafening chants from supporters, Muluzi continued: “ Through experience, I have realized that it is possible for people who belong to different religions to work towards moving this nation forward.”
Said Muluzi in vernacular Chichewa—a part of his less than five-minute speech: “I have also, through my experience as a Cabinet Minister, learn to handle government matters and situations.”
According to him, the coming in of Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo—who he named running-mate— was instrumental in realising UDF’s dream of forming the next government.
“[Frank] Mwenifumbo is an experienced man who brings with him the much needed support to UDF,” he said.
Mwenifumbo, one of the frontline troops during the change from one-party dictatorship to democracy, dominated the media last year for the political battles between him and Enock Chihana over the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) presidency.
But Muluzi said his choice of Mwenifumbo was only to stamp that UDF does not believe in the politics of discrimination.
“UDF is the only party that manifests practical democracy,” he said.
Atupele, son to former president Bakili Muluzi, has served as legislator for Machinga North East for 15 years—three consecutive terms.
He has served in different Cabinet portifolios including as Minister of Health for which he is the present holder of the office.
“Working alongside the incumbent government has equipped me with capacity to observe and handle critical issues affecting us,” he said.
Part of his manifesto emphasizes on “achieving quality health services for all”, the “freedom of quality education” and that agriculture as the hub of Malawi economy will be rendered with “special attention to benefit the masses.”
In the 2014 presidential elections, Muluzi amassed 770 000 votes—mostly from the eastern region where he commands much support.
The UDF torch bearer described his pair with Mwenifumbo as “perfect choice.”
He said: “This day ushers the rebirth, a new beginning of a young nation with enormous ambitions.”
Mwenifumbo, according to analysts, might help Muluzi get some votes from the divided northern region.
“Mwenifumbo is a strong politician, at least in his constituency. That would help the UDF get some votes from the northern region with the idea that he comes from the region too,” said Pilirani Kachinziri, Times Group head of news and current affairs, during his analysis on Times TV.
Meanwhile, Mwenifumbo in an interview with Zodiak TV at Comesa Hall insists that he is still a member of AFORD.