Seeking a Change Agenda for Malawi via a Fresh Generation of Leaders sign now

TO: Honourable Atupele Austin Muluzi
Member of Parliament for Machinga North-East,
C/O Parliament Offices,
Private Bag B-362,
Lilongwe 3,
Malawi,
Africa

November 7th. 2010

SUBJECT: Seeking a Change Agenda for Malawi via a Fresh Generation of Leaders

Dear Honourable Atupele Austin Muluzi

We, the undersigned, write this petition to urge you to join the race to become leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party. Not all of us are UDF members, but we all understand the importance of such a move -- among them the fact that once so elected at the forthcoming UDF convention, you would become the partys presidential candidate in the general elections of 2014. That election must trigger a debate of new ideas, hopefully involving fresh faces from a new generation of leaders such as you.

The 2014 election must be a political watershed for Malawi. It should present the country with a clear choice between maintaining an old style leadership and a new one that personifies the aspirations of a new generation of Malawians who are ready to join the rest of the world in a fresh engagement with national and global challenges. Particularly, it must be an election that offers a unique opportunity for change in how we do politics in Malawi.

Statisticians estimate the population of Malawians under the age of 20 to be two-thirds of the national population today a huge number. Only 5\% of Malawis population is older than 65. Malawis aggregate young population wants to be challenged into positive action by a new style of leadership that best understands and represents Malawians hopes and aspirations for the future. This majority yearns to be challenged by a youthful and vigorous leadership, full of new ideas for change towards a better country.

At the age of 36 in 2014, you, Sir, could be the face of the change agenda that so many of us crave at party and government levels. The country, as much as the UDF party, needs this injection of freshness. By contrast, the presumed ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate in 2014, Honourable Arthur Peter Mutharika, who spent most of his life outside Malawi, will be 74 years old in 2014 clearly out of step, at least in terms of age, with the vast majority of our people.

If need be, you should take inspiration from the fact that a thirst for change motivated Americans to elect then Senator Barack Obama, 45, President of the United States two years ago. In the United Kingdom, they elected David Cameron, 44, Prime Minister; and the Labour Party elected Ed Miliband, 41, to lead it and thereby become Leader of Her Majestys Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons at Westminster. In Malawi we similarly thirst for this kind of change.

If experience is also important, in 2014 you will, in fact, have had more parliamentary experience than all of the aforementioned world leaders before they assumed their current high offices. In that year, you will have served for ten years as Member of Parliament for Machinga North-East. Senator Obama had been Senator for only 3 years before running for President of the United States. David Cameron had been in the House of Commons for 9 years before becoming British Prime Minister; and Ed Miliband had been in the House of Commons for 5 years before becoming leader of the British Labour Party and thereby of Her Majestys Loyal Opposition.

Like in Great Britain and the United States, Malawians are yearning for new, youthful and vigorous leadership to bring about change for the benefit of the country, now and in the future. Apart from your youth, you also show a great deal of maturity as demonstrated in your recent media interviews particularly the one aired on October 19, 2010 with Brian Banda on Capital Radios Straight Talk program.

It is our belief that a new generation leader such as you will understand that a head of state ought to act in the way urged in the Catholic Bishops letter of October 31st, 2010. Among that letters recommendations is, for example, the fact that leaders properly consult on issues of national importance. We, the undersigned, believe that you agree with the Bishops that consultations must give room to contrary opinions and allow for debate and dialogue without government reprisals against those who hold views contrary to its views.

We believe you are fully equipped to understand that the public media, paid with tax payers money, as the Bishops said, must ensure that the general public remains informed in a balanced fashion especially in news coverage. We believe you also understand that the private media should not be threatened with closure if it is perceived to be in disaccord with the wishes of government as the Mutharika administration, of which Hon. Arthur Peter Mutharika is a part, has been carrying on.

We also believe that you understand, as the Catholic bishops have urged, that food security issues not be politicised, and that governments assurances of food abundance reflect the actual food situation at household level throughout the country. We also believe you understand that the anti-corruption drive can be taken seriously only if it does not become the governments instrument for silencing political opponents, as the Catholic bishops have said is the case now.

We, the undersigned, believe that you are a man who has an impressive grasp of the urgent issues that currently bedevil the UDF party and the national body-politic and that you have the requisite fire in the belly to lend your efforts towards the building of a better Malawi. Because of your demonstrated grasp of party and national issues, you already own the basics required to draw up a comprehensive agenda for a new direction for the UDF and for Malawi.

Comparisons between your possible run in 2014 with that of Hon. Arthur Peter Mutharika is false. His candidacy raises alarm because his brother is the sitting Head of State who is using the weight of his office as President (e.g. on MBC radio and TV-Malawi) to promote his brother's political fortunes over those of others (e.g. the Vice President's), creating an unfair competition.

Your father, former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi, is no longer President of Malawi or leader of the UDF. Your example, therefore, is more like that of George W. Bush who ran for President of the United States a full eight years after his own father, George H.W. Bush, had been president. Comparing your situation with that of Hon. Arthur Peter Mutharikas is, therefore, akin to comparing apples and oranges.

We, the undersigned, offer you our encouragement to run for UDF leader with a fresh agenda promoting change in the party. We wish you all the best to win that leadership and bring your agenda for change to the national scene as presidential candidate carrying the UDF banner in the general elections of 2014. For the sake of change in the UDF and in Malawi, we urge you to make a run for the UDF Presidency.

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Claudia LynchBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
Petition target:
Atupele Muluzi

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