News / Africa

President Banda Outlines Her Vision for Malawi

Malawi's President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe, April 10, 2012.
Malawi's President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe, April 10, 2012.
Peter Clottey
Malawi President Joyce Banda has outlined her vision for the country, which she said is to improve the lives of Malawians by saving the troubled economy and creating good paying jobs.

“My vision is a Malawi where men and women live in peace and in harmony as equals enjoying their human rights. My dream is for Malawi to be poverty free, and I intend to eradicate poverty, through economic growth and wealth creation,” said  Banda.

In an exclusive interview with VOA, President Banda promised that Malawians would see a sharp improvement in the economy within the next six months because of policies and initiatives her administration has put in place.

Economy

Among other initiatives, Banda says that shortly after she became president, she organized a national dialogue on the economy to consider Malawi’s growth and development strategy.

“Malawians must realize and must be satisfied that we are serious with the economic recovery plan that we drew, and that there are signs that we are recovering,” said Banda.

She expressed confidence that policies her administration has implemented, including the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction, will address economic challenges Malawians face. 

“I went to the World Bank and asked them to provide resources in order for us to implement public works programs, cash transfer programs, school feeding programs, to ensure that we take care of the shock of the devaluation of the Kwacha [local currency], because we knew that the rural masses would go through a hard time because of the [currency] devaluation,” she said.

But some opposition groups have accused Banda of being ineffectual in dealing with the economy. They recently organized a nationwide demonstration to pressure the government to do more to spur economic growth. Organizers said the demonstrators were especially concerned about high inflation and runaway fuel prices.

Government supporters counter that President Banda inherited a bad economy from her predecessor, that international donors were reducing their support and that she should be given more time for her policies to work.

“This was a country that for me was literally bankrupt, an economy that has been destroyed through mismanagement and corruption,” said President Banda.

“Within the first 100 days of my stay in office the situation changed,” she continued. “The letter was received from the IMF, the Kwacha was devalued, [and] the donors were back. Our relationship with our neighbors had improved.”

Banda became president nine months ago following the death of president Bingu Wa Mutharika. Some analysts blame Mutharika’s policies for Malawi’s current economic woes.

Opposition demands

Some opposition groups have criticized Banda for not declaring her personal wealth when she became president following the death Mutharika. The groups say such a declaration could have helped Banda’s efforts to root out corruption.

But the president has disagreed saying, she already declared her assets before becoming the vice president as required by the country’s constitution.

“[My lawyers say] that because I am the president of this country, I am going to be victimized if I declare my assets every month or when it suits any groups of people. That is not in the law,” she said.

Critics also say the president has yet to keep her promise to sell the country’s presidential jet. Banda noted that a recent poll showed that over 75 percent of Malawians want the presidential jet to be retained because the country has already paid for it.

Even so, Banda says she will make sure the presidential jet is sold and that a Cabinet committee has been formed to find a buyer.

“I have insisted that since Malawians will not want to sell the plane then I shall never use it. I shall never use it because morally I think it is wrong, therefore the plane must be sold,” she said.

Banda said her administration will continue to work hard to raise the standard of living for Malawians.

“Malawians must look forward toward a better future,” she said.

“I am also concentrating on improving our World Bank ranking as the destination for doing business,” Banda added.  “So Malawians should know that once our ranking improves, it will attract investment and when investment comes, we will create jobs. Six months from now, Malawians would realize that we are on a road to a complete [economic] recovery.”

Reconciliation

President Banda also said she wants to work with civil society and opposition groups to help improve the lives of Malawians.

“I made a statement for everybody to forgive each other and to demonstrate that I formed an all-inclusive Cabinet so that Malawians can see that I was serious when I [said] I will work with even those that persecuted me,” said Banda.

Clottey exclusive interview with Malawi President Joyce Banda
Clottey exclusive interview with Malawi President Joyce Bandai
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Comments
     
by: Kes Munthali from: Blantyre
January 22, 2013 7:08 PM
It saddens me to say this,But Joyce Banda Falls into the category of the sort of Leaders that Africa can do without.
Joyce Banda seems to lack the most basic understanding of what being a leader of a country and what running a country entails.
Since coming to power the country now has been left at the mercy of the IMF,who seem to be running the show,the Malawi growth and development strategy she is referring to is a red herring it does not exist.
The level of corruption at present is unbelievable, party cahoots and the presidents son are raking in Millions of dollars from government contracts and well meaning donors to various causes,she claims to be championing though her joyce banda foundation trust.Legitimate contracts are being cancelled or not renewed and are then being awarded to briefcase companies that noone has heard of,a case in point being the farm input subsidy program where contracts worth a couple of million USD were awarded to cabinet ministers.This has resulted in no delivery and in a number of cases sand has been placed in fertilizer bags to duke farmers.
Talk of excess she seems to have a taste for foreign and local travel.on average at present she has atleast 4 local engagements a week minimum,with an entourage of 20 vehicles with individual allowances of any thing inbetween 500-250 USD for every individual who partake in this engagements.The High point was when she took 53 people as part of her delegation to the UN general assembly for a 3 week period.The entourage included family members,local party officials,friends,chiefs etc at a cost of over 1million usd.
Bribery and threats of media personnel,opposing voices,disregard of the law have became the order of the day.Evidence of which was as last week,when state machinary such us TVM, where put into full service to try to suppress a consumer protest,organized to complain about the raising cost of living,abuse of state resources,rampant corruption and a bloated cabinet amongst other thing.

In Response

by: Chilungamo chikondi from: blantyre
January 23, 2013 10:01 AM
@Lister Msowoya

* In regards to expenditure the facts are within 7 months since the budget was approved,state house alone as of last month had exceeded it allocation by well over 800 million kwacha,out of a budget of 1.8 billion total expenditure was already at 2.6 billion.This is no hearsay it is a fact.This has been attributed largely to excess travel both local and international on errands that are of no benefit or befitting the office of state president I.e opening shopping malls,motels,trips to Nigeria to visit Bishop Joshoa e.t.c At a time when she continues to tell Malawians to tighten there belts and people are continuing to see standards of living going down it seem quite hypocritical.

What i personally find hard to understand,is why she does not want to declare her assets?After all it is a constitutional requirement and all her predecessors did abide by it.Her argument about being victimized if she did declare her assets does not make any sense .What is she hiding?Fact is as the first poster pointed out,its a free for all out here,and one can only draw the conclusion that she is part of the gravy train.
In Response

by: Lister Msowoya from: Blantyre
January 23, 2013 4:28 AM
Munthali's comments are just based on hearsay not facts, I work in one of the local banks and Joyce Banda had no option but to go to IMF for credit facilities! IMF is not a DONOR and therefore, it should have lending conditions! have you ever borrowed some money from any local bank? Do they give it without collateral? even banks were on blink of closure as manifested by closure of various forex departments, government cheques bouncing now and then.

On travels, she has challenged journalists and other interested parties to go and see the travel docs and receipts to get truth of expenditure...if its within budget (statehouse Vote) as 'donated' by parliament, then lets acquit her.

On so called demos, a handful malawians attended 'cause we know where we coming from and why there was need to devalue the Kwacha plus we need production more than consumption if we are to develop! another question; why did the organisers' account balances shot if they were realy volunteering for the poor? wake up Malawians!

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