Modern politics not about age but ability –Atupele

Presidential aspirant Atupele Austin Muluzi, 33, son of former president Bakili Muluzi, says those who are opposing his ambitions for the country’s top job on the basis of young age, conveniently choose to look down at young people as unable to play a meaningful role in society.

In a ‘Hard Talk’ interview with Malawi News, the UDF Parliamentarian for Machinga North East, said people who are saying he is young “are afraid of change and have no time to listen to what young people have to say.”

He said when they feel threatened “they use the age card and unfortunately for them the world has changed. It is no longer the same.”

The deputy leader of UDF in parliament said women and the youth have a very important role to play in politics and they need to be given a chance to have influential positions.

Atupele Muluzi:Malawi needs credible transformational leaders who will deliver a clear vision, values and aspirations of its people

He also pointed out that the older generation is equally important as “custodians of our culture and history.”

“They are there to guide us and remind us not to repeat the mistakes of the past. As they say the past we inherit the future we create.”

Atupele who is touting ‘an agenda for change’,  said: “Any modern organization needs an injection of new talent, new thinking and new ideas fused with the experience of the older generation in order to move to the next level.”

“Just look at the global leadership roles today, in politics, in Industry [and] the arts.”

The younger Muluzi said “modern politics is not about age but ability, vision and the big idea.”

He cited an example of Britain and United States where politicians assumed leadership roles at a youthful age and successfully led their parties.

“Tony Blair was 41 when he became Leader of the Labour party and his rival William Hague was elected leader of the conservative party at 36. David Cameron (current British Prime Minister) was 38 when he led the conservatives; Ed Milliband was 40 as Leader of the Labour party and is current Leader of the opposition. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was 37,” he said.

Atupele said none of them except one ever held executive position in government, saying in his case he has served in Parliament longer than most of them.

“Leadership requires good physical and mental strength, clarity of vision and moral courage. I believe in all three attributes,” said Atupele whose road show political meetings are causing sensation in the country.

“I am able to see that we are at point X now but we need to go to point Y; and how we can achieve that.

“By 2014 we will be celebrating 50 years as an independent nation and this must provide us the opportunity to look back at ourselves from the vantage point of hindsight.”

He added: “The success of the next 50 years will be judged on our ability to raise a generation of Malawians who have equal access to opportunities and development resources and to build a prosperous nation.”

Atupele said the country’s next elections due in 2014 will be the most important for a generation and “we will have this rare opportunity to completely transform our politics, the way we create wealth; deliver services in education, health, agriculture and infrastructure development.”

“That is what the people are expecting from us as leaders and our role as politicians is to ensure that we are able to inspire and mobilize people to go to that place.”

Serving people

Atupele said he subscribes to the notion that “politics is about serving people and the mark of a good politician is to be a good listener.”

He said: “Over the past two years, I have listened to the voices of many ordinary Malawians complaining over the current state of affairs in the country.”

The presidential hopeful said people are mostly concerned about the rising cost of living and the scarcity of money.

“Small businesses are struggling to survive and some are on the verge of collapse. They are concerned about the fuel, forex, water and electricity problems,” he said.

“Delivery of essential public services in our country is poor. Our schools lack basic learning materials and most of them remain in a dilapidated state. Hospitals continue to lack essential medicines. University education is in a sorry state. There is demand for decent quality housing and a better quality of life.

“Our inability to create jobs for our ever increasing youthful population is also of great concern. Many people are worried about the future.”

He told the paper: “This is a conversation that everyone in Malawi today is having. What most people are asking is what we can do to fix these problems. It appears that all doors are closed.

“I have come forward to say that as one door closes another opens.  I want to be part of that team that helps in opening a new door for Malawians.”

Atupele said the people will choose leaders of their choice whether at party level or at ational level and  said no one should be discriminated, assuring Malawians that “I have what it takes to lead.”

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