DURBAN 070507 Malawi minister of foreign affaris Joyce Banda sign the joint permanent commission for cooperation between South Africa and Malawi PICTURE: John HLongwa

Blantyre, Malawi - The son of Malawi's ex-president Bakili Muluzi on Monday resigned as as economic planning minister after President Joyce Banda said he did not have what it takes to run for the highest office.

“It is with enormous regret that I ... resign from the post of minister of economic planning appalled and mortified by the verbal tirade on me by leaders of the (ruling) People's Party,” said Atupele Muluzi, 34.

A popular politician among the youth, Muluzi was last month elected chair of the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), effectively making him the party's candidate for the 2014 presidential election.

President Banda was at the weekend quoted by state media as telling a rally in southern Mangochi, a district where Muluzi is popular, that he does not even speak the local Yao dialect and “yet he wants to become president.”

Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa told the same rally that Atupele was serving “two masters” and that he should choose between being a minister and resigning.

Atupele said the attacks showed that Banda and some ministers “lacked the courtesy, mutual respect and dignity that is expected between colleagues.”

“As a matter of principle, I do not believe that I can continue to serve as a member of the cabinet with the honour and dignity that is a requisite for the performance of such duties.”

He is the first minister to leave Banda's inclusive government, which was formed seven months ago with the aim of achieving economic recovery and regaining donor confidence.

Atupele was one of the key political figures roped into Banda's government when she took over following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Muluzi's father quit active politics in 2009 after a failed bid to stand for a third term. - Sapa-AFP