resident Joyce Banda’s ascendancy to the Office of the president of the Republic of Malawi raised peoples’ expectations and naturally many thought that things would change for the better, very fast. In this regard, what President Joyce Banda considered to be her first task was to mend broken fences with donors. This could only happen, by par-taking the painful but necessary IMF prescribed dosage called devaluation.
She accordingly mended fences with Malawi’s traditional donor the United Kingdom and devalued, surprisingly with fanfare, the Malawi Kwacha by over 49%. Four months in office, however the picture no longer looks very rosy for President Joyce Banda.
- The pound sterling and dollars are flowing yet devaluation continues to bite very hard.
- Criminals are springing up from every corner and committing various horrendous acts with impunity.
- The Constitution, the very same tool that got her into office, is now a piece of literature in which she can cherry-pick what suits her.
Is she worthy for a five year contract in 2014 or should Malawians start looking elsewhere? It is not for me to answer, but I can only comment on what I am witnessing with respect to what people expected.
President Mutharika was adamant on devaluation. Arguing that devaluation would hurt the poor most since no measures were on the horizon to cushion the effects of floatation of the kwacha. President Joyce Banda devalued the Kwacha, and the IMF and the donor community clapped hands. But what cushions are, as we speak, on the table to protect the poor?
I have so far seen nothing. How does the president think Malawians are copying up with the situation? And how long before they start murmuring? The fact is: Malawians are suffering, and for now suffering in silence because of a devaluation that came with little or no cushions.
Security and a rise in criminal activity:
Since she took over as president, there has been massive security breakdown. Thieves are thieving and killing, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, district by district, and no city has been spared.
People are dying, banks and business tycoons are crying. Malawians today are living in fear in their own homes and homeland. And what does the government do or say? The minister of home affairs, Mr Uladi Mussa, says it is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets who are running a campaign of terror people with the aim of discrediting the Joyce Banda Presidency.
Does anyone buy this? Straight-minded people of course cannot. The shoot-to-kill policy, it appears, had a good side to it. It was keeping criminals in check. But in a bid to score cheap marks in human rights, our police officers were disarmed, and criminals, one can say, empowered. What is the presidential reaction? Worrisome.
She seems to be unconcerned as far as one can tell from her speeches. Listening to the new Inspector General of Police addressing his cops, one notes – with regret - that the top cop is not a morale booster, nor a team builder.
He could do well as a pastor but not a cop in a country where criminals think they are licenced to kill. If this trend continues, the Peoples Party (PP) should be assured of a tough ride in its bid to seek genuine mandate in 2014. Unless that is if Joyce Banda thinks that appeasing has ever helped anyone secure elected office.
Disregard for the rule of law:
President Joyce Banda is very good at drumming up support to make sure that the constitution of Malawi is adhered when a section works to her advantage. But when a section is against her interests, she plays all tricks in and outside the book to make sure that the section is never applied. Section 65 is a clear case in point. The spirit of the law in requiring her to declare her assets is another.
It is clear that President Joyce Banda and her Peoples party have no agenda other than pleasing donors. Pleasing donors is fine, but the problem is that donors do not and cannot set policy. That is her threshold. I could defend her by arguing that she ascended to the position unexpectedly but this is no excuse.
As a vice president, it should have occurred to her to prepare herself, at short notice, to take over the reins. In conclusion therefore I, the Born Free, submit without fear of contradiction that Malawi is in dire need of a strong, democratic visionary with sound leadership. And with due respect, President Joyce Banda is far away from meeting these requirements hence silencing rivals with undeliverable second vice presidencies, mandasi-like appointments, reminiscent of Bakili Muluzi.
Now, with the added Taifa threat from the north and north east, I cry for Malawi. We are not in the hands that can fend off our greedy brothers and sisters baying for our lake. I rest my case.