Blame Mutharika on Malawi woes -VEEP

Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda says the Head of State Bingu wa Mutharika has earned himself the position of a hate administration from citizens including herself because she is leading a “suffering” nation.

Banda, said she cannot take blame of the government she is part of, because she has “no opportunity to provide counsel” to it as she is being denied any space to help.

Nyasa Times monitored the Vice President’s remarks on Capital FM Straight Talkprogramme on Tuesday evening through online the radio’s online streaming.

Banda: Mutharika spells doom for Malawi

Rank arrogance

The Vice President said the problems bedevilling the nation ranging from economic turmoil, poor governance and human rights problems should be blamed to President Mutharika because of his arrogance.

“I am 61 and I don’t remember at any time that Malawians suffered as much as they have suffered now,” said the Vice President.

“The president is the pilot and I as Joyce Banda being vice president I maybe assistant pilot. But out of his choice, the president decided to push the assistant out of the cockpit,” she said.

“I know that we might crash but I am helplessly sitting with the people outside the cockpit. I can point out the things that are going [wrong] that will make us crash and indeed will crash,” the Vice President, a wife of  Malawi and Swaziland’s retired Chief Judge, Richard Banda.

The Vice President was expelled from the governing party because she opposed plans to have the President’s brother, Peter Mutharika, to inherit power from the incumbent in 2014.

Banda, who is now leading a major political force – People’s Party – during the interview also, accused government spokespersons for peddling lies and spin doctoring obvious issues in their quest to refute the truth “as if they are telling children.”

“Something has seriously gone wrong [in Malawi under Mutharika],” said Banda known as JB by her political followers.

Banda said if Mutharika had asked her to be his presidential running mate in the situation the way it is now, she could have rebuffed him.

“If in 2009 we were at this level and the President asked me to contest (as vice president), I could not have accepted,” she said.

Banda – a grassroots campaigner – said she is in sync with the people, including the impoverished, saying Malawians are suffering as they fail to buy utensils, facing fuel shortage and that pregnant women are “delivering in the dark” because she said when they are asked to bring candles at the hospitals due to frequent power blackouts.

She also said HIV/Aids sufferers are failing to get their life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs, ARVS in hospitals and general medication shortage.

“We have gone into this situation because of [Mutharika’s] arrogance,” said the Vice president.

“I am speaking on behalf of all Malawians that are suffering,” added Banda.

Subsidy flop

The Vice President also charged that the fertiliser subsidy programme has been poorly implemented.

“Even the subsidy programme has flopped,” said Banda.

She teared apart the system, arguing among others things that most suppliers were unscrupulous and poor farmer are having coupons failing to buy the subsidised fertiliser on the market.

“For two years running people have been going with coupons but they have not got the fertiliser,” she said.

“The whole fertiliser subsidy programme has failed,” stressed the vice president.

Solutions

Responding to question from host Brian Banda on what advice she would offer as solutions to the current economic turmoil, the vice president said the country should restore its diplomatic relations with donors like Britain and neighbouring countries.

“Improve our diplomacy, our relationship with our partners, be it in the SADC region and overseas,” said Banda who first served Mutharika administration as Foreign Affairs Minister.

“Let us go back to our corporation partners; they have demanded that we should do several things. Repeal our [repressive] laws. Explain Robert Chasowa death (a pro-democracy university student who is believed to have been murdered by regime thugs).”

She however said Malawi needs “a huge bail out” on its ailing economy.

On fixing the farm input subsidy programme, Banda said government should “allow an independent organ to be the one to identify people to have fertiliser contracts” and stamp out corruption form suppliers.

“The whole system has to improve,”  said Banda, aco-laureate of the 1997, coveted Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger .

“This is a country remember that was supposed to be an exporting nation now, we haven’t even started exporting. This is the country that was supposed to create jobs through factories. We haven’t got the factories,” she said in apparent reference to President Mutharika’s campaign promises.

She also called on government to “recognise and respect” the private sector as engines for growth, saying in eastern African nation Kenya, their “vibrant private sector” drives the economy.

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