How Malawians Will Miss Joyce Banda

It was in April 2012 when President Dr Joyce Banda ascended to power following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Despite some people trying to rape the constitution in order to block her ascendancy to the highest office of the land, she still made it, thanks to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi that needed no further interpretations.

Within a month of taking the throne, Banda stated that she had forgiven and forgotten about all the grudges that she had from the wrath she faced under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rule when she was Vice President.

For the first time in the history of multiparty democracy in the country, Banda appointed an inclusive cabinet. She appointed ministers from almost all major political parties to ensure that everyone should contribute his or her ideas towards the growth and stability of this country.

Her cabinet also consisted of about six Muslim full ministers, a clear demonstration of JB’s commitment to the unity of Malawi without any regard to the religion or region where one is coming from.

Apart from the inclusive cabinet, JB also appointed commissioners for Malawi’s electoral body Malawi Electoral Commission from different parties saying she wanted to ensure that 2014’s tripartite elections were free and fair.

The judiciary, the Army and the Malawi Police Service did not face massive restructuring like the way other past leaders had been doing.

At the time when she took over the presidency to complete late Dr Bingu wa Mutharika’s term in office, Malawi was no longer a Warm Heart of Africa. The country’s economy was in shambles with even sugar becoming a scarce commodity.

Several businesses collapsed to the extent that some companies had to close down their operations. There was no forex, drugs in hospitals and fuel was a luxury. Queues were the order of the day.

The long relationship with traditional donors was sour, so much so that others withdrew their aid purely on governance issues, Malawi’s economy was about to go bankrupt.

However, within a short period of time, Banda managed to reverse all of these and managed to put the country’s economy on track. The shortage of fuel and forex was no more an issue.

Her government succumbed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure to devalue the Kwacha.

IMF had advised Malawi to devalue the kwacha to stabilize economy, the move which Mutharika rejected. However, through her Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) Joyce Banda accepted and swallowed the bitter pill.

Despite receiving mixed reactions, the decision helped Malawians as indeed the economy experienced a slight growth.

In terms of freedom, JB scored 4:99 out of 5 stars. She gave Malawians all freedoms and respected their rights. People were able to hold demonstrations peacefully unlike in the past where several lives were lost on the famous July 20.

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), for the first time demonstrated that it is indeed a public broadcaster where during the campaign period, candidates were given enough airtime to tell Malawians what they will do if elected on May 20’s polls so that people can make informed decisions.

In terms of freedom of speech, people were able to speak and write without fearing someone knocking on their door during midnight.

Two years down the line, gradually President Banda’s morale among the citizenry started dwindling especially due to her frequent travel and the infamous cashgate scandal.

All people in her inclusive government started to betray her by siphoning billions of kwachas from the government. Banda said the revelations of cashgate was a proof that her government was corrupt free and warned to deal with all culprits.

However, cashgate cannot be compared to the atrocities that Malawians faced during Mutharika’s regime.

Sadly, of all those good things that she did for Malawi, Joyce Banda was sent packing to her Malemia village in Zomba after she came third in the polls. She receives different insults every day.

Just a few days ago, a mere musician called Madonna who adopted our two children attacked the president. We are saying a mere musician attacking the whole president and yet some Malawians applauding that.

This happened as she tried to raise her concern about reported irregularities at this year’s polls. At first, the President called for a manual recount after MEC admitted the anomalies but people started insulting her.

Until Malawians open their eyes and compare the coming regime with hers, then they will indeed be able to appreciate the good things that Banda did in the country and people will be justified to judge on whether she deserves insults or not.

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