Malawi's Vice President Joyce Banda has launched the People’s Party (PP), which she says will soon unveil its platform. She is expected to lead the party in the 2014 presidential polls.
“Our plan for the next two years is to build the party in readiness to stand for election,” said Banda. “We have more than 1.2 million members already. So, we have put systems in place that will enable us to articulate the issues that we want to present to the Malawi electorate in a form of a manifesto in 2013.”
Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda says opinion polls indicate popular support for her fight to ensure government respect for the rights of its citizens.
Banda, who has a frosty relationship with President Mutharika, said she is “comfortable” working in the administration she often criticizes, despite mounting pressure by Cabinet ministers and members of the ruling party to resign.
“Malawians will tell me if I’m relevant or not. The argument that says I should resign to concentrate on my party is a decision that I have to make, and I don’t see myself making that [choice],” said Banda. “I shall stick to my mandate. Malawians are the ones who will tell me that I cannot continue in this position.”
Vice President Banda has been critical of Mr. Mutharika’s administration. She supported anti-government demonstrations, which in July turned violent following a government crackdown.
Critics of the government including civil society groups and the opposition recently protested to express what they said was their anger and disgust at “marauding tyranny, bad economic policies and [poor] democratic governance.”
Banda also criticized Mr. Mutharika for “declaring war” on Malawians following reports that organizers were planning another round of protests.
“Malawians are up in arms right now [asking] what can we do when our own president stands at a podium and declares war… Malawians are not happy about things that are happening,” said Banda. “These issues are within my mandate to raise. I feel if Malawians are being denied opportunities and I don’t raise [the issue], then I’m abdicating the responsibilities given to me through elections by Malawians.”
But, Dr. Heatherwick Ntaba, spokesman for President Mutharika, dismissed the criticism. He accused Banda of “moral inconsistency” for being part of the government she is criticizing.
“The most honorable thing for her to do,” said Ntaba, “is to move from her office as vice president, because …. she is responsible for the rights and wrongs, successes and failures, of that government. Many people in that position [would] quit rather than stay on.”
The Nyasa Times newspaper quoted Ntaba as saying “I think Joyce ran out of [accusations against] the president. She lacked real issues to argue against government, wondering what else [to do], had the president not used the war symbolism.”
Banda insists she was kicked out of the ruling DPP after refusing to back a move to have Mutharika’s younger brother Peter as the party’s nominee for president in the next elections.
Presidential spokesman Ntaba denies Mutharika is imposing his younger brother on the party.
Banda has resisted increasing pressure to resign. She vowed not to shirk her responsibility, which she said, constitutionally mandates her to fight for the well being of the ordinary Malawian.