United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi used Friday’s presidential debate to pick on Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima who is also Malawi Vice President.
The three candidates in the May 21 presidential elections faced off in the debate which took place at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive was also supposed to be one of the panellists but he did not show up.
Over the course of the debate moderated by Grace Malera, Muluzi attacked Chilima for not changing anything as vice president and wondered what new developments Chilima would bring if elected.
On quota which Chilima promised to abolish if elected, Muluzi said the UTM leader was overseeing public sector reforms in the Mutharika administration but failed to end the quota system of selecting students to public universities and national secondary schools.
Chilima responded to Muluzi’s attack by accusing Muluzi of lying. Muluzi’s constant use of experience in running government affairs also surprised Chilima who asked the UDF leader if he has ever won an election.
Muluzi who is also Minister of Health said that he will use his experience in running government affairs to end the quota system. He claimed that Chakwera who has never been a minister does not have similar experience.
Muluzi also attacked Chakwera saying the MCP manifesto is promising “everything under the sun”.
He added that the MCP does not provide details on how a Chakwera led government will implement the plans contained in the manifesto.
On the quota system, Chakwera said the system will be abolished under MCP and the party will construct universities and schools so that every child should have access to quality education. Chilima also promised to abolish the system and to encourage initiatives that will increase intake in universities.
On Fertilizer and in input subsidy programme, Chilima said his government will focus on lowering prices of fertilizer while Chakwera said there will be universal fertilizer subsidy.
In his response, Muluzi said the price of fertilizer has gone up and there is a need to change the way we farming is done in Malawi. He said farmers should focus on other crops in in order to achieve food security
The presidential candidates also responded to questions on corruption, governance and health.
In closing, Chilima said the 2019 elections are about ending tribalism, corruption, nepotism and the belief that Malawi belongs to a few privileged families.
Chakwera said he would have loved to have debated with President Peter Mutharika while Muluzi urged Malawians to elect people because they are good leaders not because they show anger.