Atupele takes off gloves

United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi has assured his party supporters that he is not withdrawing from the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Muluzi, who is serving as Minister of Health in President Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet, gave the assurance in Zomba on Wednesday when he addressed whistle-stop rallies at Katete, Namisonga and Chinamwali in Zomba Changalume, Zomba Likangala and Zomba Central constituencies, respectively.

Muluzi: I am not withdrawing my presidential candidacy

His sentiments come amid speculation that he was set to withdraw his candidacy to endorse his current boss—Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Speculation about Muluzi’s possible withdrawal from the race was heightened by the pull out of former president Joyce Banda, as presidential candidate for People’s Party (PP), who endorsed Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

In his address, Muluzi, who alongside Vice-President Saulos Chilima are Mutharika’s Cabinet members challenging their boss in the presidential race, said a day does not pass without critics hitting at him that he has sold the party and he is a desperate leader withdrawing from the presidential race.

He said he had chosen to remain silent because in his 15-year political career, his greatest enemy is poverty and not detractors.

Muluzi said: “Therefore, make informed decisions on the polling day by voting back UDF into power if people are to have a leader who has their welfare at heart.”

He said many local and international partners entrust him with various portfolios because he delivers.

On the campaign, he said UDF has not been active since the launch of the campaign period but challenged that in 30 days the party will run a vigorous campaign until it bounces back into government.

Said Muluzi: “UDF has a clean history of ending poverty by investing in people, ensuring that they have money and food for their livelihood. We are committed to reversing the current challenges the country is facing when voted back into power.”

In their remarks, shadow parliamentarians in the constituencies—Chikumbutso Likandawe, Hasheem Banda and Loveness Mulombe—expressed optimism to win and lead their constituents from poverty to prosperity.

Zomba has 10 constituencies and in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, UDF did not win any while DPP won three, independents won two and People’s Party (PP) won five.

In the 2009 General Elections, UDF also failed to win any seat while DPP swept seven and independents too, three.

UDF, then led by Atupele’s father Bakili Muluzi, formed the first post-independence multiparty administration in 1994 and led the country up to 2005 when Muluzi’s successor, Bingu wa Mutharika, ditched the party to form DPP.

Since 1994, UDF’s influence in Parliament has waned.

In 1994, UDF won 85 seats out of 177 while in 1999—when the number of seats was increased to 193—UDF won 93 before dropping to 49 in 2004, 17 in 2009 and 14 in 2014.

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