Malawi opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has said its president Atupele Muluzi has been given the blessing of the party to accept the appointment as Minister in President Peter Mutharika’s 20-member cabinet of technocrats.
Mutharika appointed Atupele, who came in fourth in the disputed May ballot, as minister of natural resources, energy and mining.
A son of a former president, Atupele becomes the only opposition lawmaker in Mutharika’s cabinet. The 36-year-old briefly worked as economic planning minister under ex-leader Joyce Banda before he quit to pursue his presidential bid.
“The UDF has accepted the appointment of Atupele Muluzi as a minister. It’s not a party position, it is a government position and it means he will work for the people of Malawi. We have accepted on that basis,” UDF spokesman Ken Ndanga told Nyasa Times in an interview on Monday evening.
Asked what will be the stand of UDF, to serve government or remain an opposition block, Ndanga said: “We will work in the best interest of the people of Malawi.”
On whether the UDF leader had consulted his party on the appointment to serve in cabinet, Ndanga said: “We have had a series of meetings within our rank and file. There have been healthy debate.”
UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said UDF “will continue discharging our duties as an opposition party to the expectation of all Malawians.”
He said Atupele’s appointment will not compromise UDF position and believes it has been made in good faith.
Atupele, who took an oath of allegiance on Monday afternoon, reportedly held a dinner talks with UDF lawmakers and executive members in the capital Lilongwe on Monday evening.
Sources say the meeting had heated discussions but a consensus was reached to allow Atupele to serve for a national duty in cabinet.