In this interview, McDonald Bamusi engages UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo to find out what new things he has brought to the party.
Congratulations on your recent election as UDF secretary general. You are coming from the corporate world into politics and, apparently, with no background in politics. What should people expect from you?
It is true I am from the corporate world. But management is the same regardless of the organisation. I believe in situational leadership. I am directly under a president [Atupele Muluzi] who undoubtedly believes in creating a conducive environment within the party and outside it. People should, therefore, expect the effective management of the party in particular and the movement for a national change agenda as championed by my president in general.
You have come at a time when the party is divided. What are some of the steps you are going to take to unite the party?
I cannot say the party is divided. It may have been divided before October 30 2012 when people were talking about UDF factions. But after the convention, there is only one UDF led by right honourable Atupele Muluzi and whose secretary general is Kandi Padambo. If there is anything I have to do, it must be to consolidate and build on the strong foundation laid by the convention.
Of late there has been confusion among UDF backbenchers in the august House, with some members sitting in opposition benches while others settling for government side. What message should Malawians get? Are you working with government or you are wholly in opposition?
As of now, we are working with government. The problems inherited by the current government are enormous and it is in that spirit that UDF thought and still thinks it can help. There are times when partisan politics has to give way to nation building. Everybody knows the unfortunate circumstances that led to what you are referring to. I call them unfortunate because in UDF, we think this is the time to be together and focus on national issues. UDF is a distinct party with its own values and agenda.
For a long time, Malawians have been dissatisfied with the level of checks and balances the opposition has been offering government. As a new top opposition figure, what should people expect from you and the entire UDF?
Well, maybe it is the constitutional framework we started with when, as Malawians, we opted for a multiparty dispensation and how power was allocated to the different arms of government. But if you look at the history of political systems, you will agree with me that evolution to what people may accept as optimum, takes some time. It must be very welcome to most Malawians that the leader of the UDF, right honourable Atupele Muluzi, is championing change. His agenda for change is all encompassing. From the way we do our politics to how government should be run, from our mindsets to new approaches of doing and regarding things. The agenda for change offers the torch of hope to be passed on to future generations.
The Peopleâ€™s Party government has been criticised for spending on non priorities such as the Presidentâ€™s frequent trips and pay-outs to fired top government officials. What is your take on this?
Every Malawian knows how things were in this country. We have to rectify. We have to correct. But it must be accepted that when you want to correct what had wildly gone wrong, not every one may be happy. As for the trips, I have to get specific facts to come up with a fair analysis of the benefits and the costs to the nation. Emotions must give way to sobriety.
As we approach 2014 tripartite elections, what plans does UDF have as a party?
Our plans are focused on three important goals if things have to change in our country. Victory in the Presidential elections, victory in the parliamentary elections, [and] victory in the Local Government Elections.