United Democratic Front (UDF) torchbearer in the May 21 Tripartite Elections Atupele Muluzi has pledged to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a K200 billion revolving fund if voted into power.
He was speaking at Nyambadwe Primary School ground on Monday where he held a rally after a whistle-stop tour of Blantyre City which also took him to Nkolokoti and Bangwe townships.
The son of former president Bakili Muluzi, who is also Minister of Health in the Mutharika administration, arrived at the venue at about sunset and immediately mounted on an open Land Rover to cheers from supporters.
Muluzi emphasised that his party’s manifesto seeks to address challenges that Malawians are facing such as poverty, unemployment, corruption and poor access to education.
He said: “Everyone knows that the UDF stands for economic empowerment. We shall, therefore, ensure that once we ascend into power, we give more Malawians, especially women and the youth, an opportunity to do various businesses using a $225 million (about K200 billion) loan revolving fund that we shall access through the African Union (AU).”
Muluzi added that the UDF plans to raise the tax-free band to K150 000 and put the minimum wage at K70 000.
But the pronouncement contradicts the UDF Manifesto, which partly reads in chapter 3(1): “We will increase the lowest tax threshold to K100 000 and raise the minimum wage to K2 000 per day”.
Currently, the tax free band is at K35 000 while the minimum wage is at K25 000. However, in March 2018 the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) proposed to government an increase of the tax free bracket to K50 000.
The calls were echoed by Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) which said increasing the band would give employees more disposable income.
Muluzi has been standing on the experience podium during this year’s campaign to disprove his detractors who in 2014 used his inexperience in politics as a weak point to attack him.
During the presidential debates, Muluzi argued he had now come of age and is ready for the highest office.
Before he rose to the podium, UDF regional governor (South) Dorothy Masinga touted Muluzi as a champion for the country’s socio-economic change.
Masinga bemoaned the state of roads in some towns and villages, failing school infrastructure and poor health systems as examples of critical issues that Muluzi had ability to solve.
Muluzi has served as a Cabinet minister in the Democratic Progressive Party government for the past five years where he has served in various portfolios.