Two UDF MPs serving in Malawi President Joyce Bandaâ€™s Cabinetâ€”Atupele Muluzi and Ibrahim Matolaâ€”have rebuffed the partyâ€™s call for all its legislators to return to opposition benches in Parliament.
Atupele, who is Minister of Economic Planning and Development (EP&D) and Machinga North East MP, on Tuesday said his interest at the moment is to help the President stabilise the economy; hence, he has no time to advance any political ambitions.
Matola, Mangochi North MP serving as Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management, said he is contemplating ditching the United Democratic Front (UDF) as he cannot remain in a party which is continuously fighting.
During a news conference in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, on Tuesday where he outlined governmentâ€™s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), Atupele said President Banda understands where his passion lies.
â€œI would not be sitting here today if she would not understand my position. I do not think this is time for political ambitions, but [time to] build the country and move together,â€ said Atupele when asked on his position regarding UDFâ€™s call and his possible resignation from the Cabinet.
Atupele, son to former president Bakili Muluzi, also said he has â€œan excellentâ€ working relationship with President Banda and his interest is for Malawi and serving Malawians.
â€œTo me, it is a great honour to serve my country as a minister. We have a huge challenge and oftentimes I have said that the window of opportunity is very small and closes very quickly. We have serious problems in the country and we have to solve them,â€ he said.
Ironically, until his appointment into Cabinet, Atupele was one of UDFâ€™s hopefuls to lead the party in the 2014 presidential elections. He stirred the nation with his â€˜Agenda for Changeâ€™ campaign during the late president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s leadership earlier this year, but went quiet after his appointment into the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) regime.
Matola said it is surprising that the decision to move to the opposition in the House has been made before thorough consultations among UDF MPs.
â€œI am in government and that is it. This country has been in problems and to me, we have been given an opportunity as a party to correct the situation,â€ he said.
Matola, who until his appointment in April this year was leader of UDF in Parliament, said pulling out of government through Parliament will not help UDF in any way.
The UDF national executive committee (NEC) made the decision on Friday after the partyâ€™s Mangochi Central MP Clement Chiwaya, who is also the partyâ€™s chief whip in Parliament, presented a report purportedly from other MPs that the party is being overshadowed by the ruling PP.
On Tuesday, Chiwaya refused to comment on the position of his colleagues. He kept accusing the media of trying to fuel divisions in UDF.
UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala said if the two or any other MP will decide to defy the decision, the party will decide on the next course of action.
UDF has been rocked in a leadership wrangle since Bakili Muluzi ceased to be its national chairperson and appointed Friday Jumbe as interim president. Two factions then emerged from the party and recently, there have been efforts to unify the two entities.