Malawians Look To President Banda with High Hopes

Malawi's new President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe. Banda said she was pinning her hopes on donors to re-open aid taps after she started talking to them on possible resumption of aid frozen over governance and macroeconomic concerns,
Malawi's new President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe. Banda said she was pinning her hopes on donors to re-open aid taps after she started talking to them on possible resumption of aid frozen over governance and macroeconomic concerns,
Lameck Masina

Malawians are hoping the country’s new president, Joyce Banda, will resolve social and economic problems faced during the administration of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika who died earlier this month.  After just a few days in office President Banda is taking steps to meet some expectations.

Daunting challenges

The challenges faced by Malawi President Joyce Banda are daunting.  Malawians are hopeful she can turn the nation around from the poor governance, economic trouble and curtailed freedoms many blame on the late president Bingu wa Mutharika.  

Many people are hopeful that Malawi's financial woes will ease under the leadership of President Banda. Former president Bakili Muluzi says the economy should be given high priority and he is ready to assist the new president with advice. “We need to address issues of economy first so that people can breathe some air. The last three years have been very difficult," said Muluzi. "I do drive to my village seeing the queues of cars and people looking for petrol diesel paraffin [the increase in] prices of our commodities. These are things the government should look into and I am optimistic that these things can be addressed.”

Mike Banda, of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, says that in addition to improving the lives of its citizens, President Banda needs to restore Malawi's relations with donor partners, including the International Monetary Fund and U.S. Millennium Challenge, that felt forced to suspend their support because of Mutharika administration policies.

“I think the issue of mending diplomatic ties with donors like Britain and other European countries, is also paramount so that we revert back to the relationship that we used to enjoy and [financial] support that were being given to us,” Banda stated.

Citizens are hopeful

Journalists in Malawi also have expectations of change. They want President Banda to repeal laws they feel limit media freedom that were enacted during president Mutharika’s time in office.

“Our initial plan is to seek an appointment with her [President Banda] and present our issues on media because it’s not about bad laws [alone] but also issues to do with general media freedom in Malawi. So after the burial of the late president we will take it from there to engage the new government. Our expectation is that she will hear our plea to repeal the laws that are infringing on media freedom,” said Anthony Kasunda, chairman of the Malawi chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa.

There's been movement in the first few days of the new administration. President Banda says she is on a path to mend souring relations with Britain, which declined last year when President Mutharika expelled a British diplomat for remarks made in a leaked diplomatic cable.

“The Minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. Henry Bellingham, indicated to me that the British government’s commitment to send a new British High Commissioner to Malawi is real and it will happen with the shortest period of time as part of the restoration of the cordial relations between our two countries,” Banda explained.

Mending relations

President Banda says she is also seeking to mend Malawi’s poor relations with its neighbor, Zambia. Bad blood between Mutharika’s government and Zambian President Michael Sata began before he was president with a 2007 political rift. Since his election as Zambia's president last year Sata has been refusing to visit Malawi. Banda now says diplomacy is back on course.

“I spoke to President Sata of Zambia. We both committed ourselves to restore the cordial diplomatic relations between our two governments. It is important for us to improve and strengthen relations between our countries knowing how critical Zambia is to Malawi as a neighbor,” noted Banda.

In a change of heart, Sata has donated five million liters of fuel to Malawi to help facilitate funeral arrangements for Mutharika.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: NVO
April 14, 2012 10:31 AM
Looking to a mere person with "high hopes" is useless. You need a good old-fashioned spiritual revival, plain and simple. People will inevitibly fail you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs