BLANTYRE—United Democratic Front MP and Minister of
Economic Planning and Development, Atupele Muluzi, contrary to his going solo with respect to the 2014 presidential race, has made an about turn, saying his party will decide his political future.
Following his appointment to cabinet by Pres Joyce Banda in April, the young Muluzi abandoned both his Agenda for Change campaign and his followers who were increasing by the day. It was a campaign that was slowly but surely confounding critics seeking to capitalise on his inexperience.
In an interview with The Sunday Times this week, Atupele said: "Despite being a cabinet member, I am also a UDF member but I am not the UDF leader. I am just an ordinary member. That decision (on 2014) will have to be made through a consensus in the UDF.
"Politics is a service. It is about serving people," Atupele added, insisting that the possibility of extension of the governing partnership into an electoral working relationship rests with the leadership of the two parties.
While Atupele said he remains a UDF member whose party has interest to contest in 2014, he declined to say if he would contest the presidency.
"Her Excellency the President asked me to serve her government which is not only a great honour but also an opportunity for us all to reshape and forge a new direction for the country. My focus is on helping the president achieve her vision of a quick economic recovery.
"We have to overcome the enormous challenges of the recent past," Atupele said. "I am into politics to serve. I have been given an opportunity to serve. This is an opportunity to set aside our political interests."
Senior and co-founding UDF member and former Speaker of Parliament, Sam Mpasu, countered Atupele’s stance saying that the current working relationship between President Banda's People's Party and some UDF parliamentarians should not be taken to mean that PP had a solid relationship with the UDF. He said the current arrangement is based on individual capacity.
"The idea of the 15-party coalition (to which the Jumbe faction of the UDF belonged) was overtaken by events but as for whether the party will partner with PP or not, I wouldn't be able to tell because that is for the future," Mpasu said.
He said, in his view, some of the UDF MPs appointed in government have "in fact" already joined the PP and were only pretending to be UDF members because of a fear for the unknown – implying Section 65.
"The MPs are very discouraged by events in the UDF. Some have announced their departure, so I am not sure of their future with government," Mpasu said.
Atupele, who is MP for Machinga North East, said by incorporating members of other parties and never demanding that they join the ruling PP, Pres Banda has "displayed inter-party tolerance."
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.