Newly elected President of the United Democratic Front (UDF) Atupele Muluzi has hit back at his critics, saying people should not base his leadership capabilities on his age.

Muluzi was speaking at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre where the party held its first political rally since a national convention that elected him as the party’s leader and 2014 Presidential candidate two weeks ago.

The remarks come against a background of criticism from some sections of society who say Muluzi is too young to lead the country as President.

In his address however, Muluzi popularly known among his supporters by his first name Atupele, hinted that people must not rule him out on the basis of his age.

Rather, they should judge him by his capabilities to steer the country to a desired economic and social position.

“Don’t look at my age. I will repeat don’t look at my age but look at my capabilities and the people I am leading the party with.

“The cause of our fight is not for me. We want to bring a new way of doing politics, a new way of running government and a country. So don’t look at my age,” said Muluzi amid chants from supporters.

Muluzi assured UDF supporters that he will not allow anyone to distract his agenda for the party and the country.

Muluzi also attacked previous leaders for lack of development in the country.

“When the freedom fighters were fighting against the colonialists in 1964, their dream was not for you to be poor as you are today 50 years after independence. They had a dream for good life for Malawians.

‘There are countries like China who were poorer than we were at independence but they overtook us and they are rich today,” said Muluzi.

He added that his responsibility will be to unlock the doors of opportunities for Malawians by changing the way politics is played and changing the mindset of the people.

According to Muluzi, the UDF has the capacity to wrestle the reigns of leadership in 2014 by capitalising on the foundation it laid when it was in power between 1994 and 2004.

Muluzi cited the free primary education and the starter pack programme which he said were good programmes that left an indelible mark on the minds of Malawians.

During the rally the UDF unveiled the party’s new National Executive Committee (Nec) including some members who have been co-opted into the Nec.

Those who have made it into the Nec include people who lost during the October 30 convention such as presidential challengers, Moses Dossi and Ruth Takomana.

Conspicuously missing on the list of the co-opted Nec members is the former secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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