Is JB and BM two sides of the same coin?

By Watipaso Mkandawire,

Malawi former president Bakili Muluzi (BM) was so appealing to the grass roots, so is  the current vice president Joyce Banda (JB). BM was comfortable with people of all class and mainly the grass roots. BM was genuinely compassionate and free-giving, so is JB. BM had a sense of humour, so does JB.

The difference perhaps as is the case with a coin is that JB may be “Heads” and BM probably “tails”. That is not to say one can decide in a coin that Heads is better than tails or vice versa. The difference between Heads and Tails is that when tossing a coin, one is made to choose the different sides. For the purpose of this story, let us say JB is Heads and BM is tails.

Let us start from premise of why the two are two sides of same coin apart from similarities described above. Both JB and BM emerged soon after the country was governed by “the so called” educated elites who looked down upon Malawians. Whereas founding president  Hastings Kamuzu Banda (HKB) repeatedly reminded us how he found us “literally naked”,   President Bingu wa Mutharika (B”W”M)  has questioned the shallow thinking of Malawians and organised lectures to remove our ignorance. Both HKB and BMW ruled with a “know it all” attitude and never tolerated criticism and those that criticised where either fed to crocodiles or smoked out! HKB and BWM both lived a “life of pomp”, swimming in luxury.

Banda: Consoling bereaved families whose relatives were killed by security force during the July 20 anti- Mutharika demonstrations

BM had to emerge out of shadows of HKB and no wonder when I visited Sanjika Palace for the first time in 1997, standards had gone down considerably. A waiter serving luncheon attended by over 100 people including visiting Asian business captains had “mamina” (mucus) nearly defying gravity and dropping into the bowl of beef curry he was serving. Esteemed senior UDF’ers sitting next to me sent him packing.

If JB were to win the next elections, she would emerge and try to take over from King of Ndata and as a “mandasi woman” she will be trying to fit into the big boots whilst selling mandasi.

Well. As Malawians we have to continue experimenting. I believe that as a Malawian who is past his life expectancy, I would rather choose Heads over tails. Yes I like mandasi, but that is not the reason why I would choose Heads. I believe in JB not because I think she will be a saviour but because she will make a better President than BM or BWM. JB is self-made and ambitious. She will however re-write Malawi’s and SADC’s history by becoming the first female President in Malawi and SADC. She will pay special attention to “tomato” and “mandasi” sellers. She will dedicate her energies to education and business growth. She will provide a platform for team work. She will provide Malawians with warmth in her “Chi Joyce Banda”.

But, here is caution to the “Heads” I have picked. This will only be possible if those in PP are able to establish a governance structure that will not make her “King” or “Queen” of Mandasi Sellers. There will be a need for a PP governance structure where party (PP) will not be synonymous to JB and vice-versa. I can only hope that PP will be the first party that will introduce decentralisation that will make the grass root make more decisions regarding their political and economic lives.

Is JB ready to lead Malawi? I want to believe that she is more than ready. Her interview with Brian Banda was impressive. If what she says is what she believes in, then we have a gem that will make us shine. I am aware that when she was Foreign Minister, one of her weaknesses was yielding to Peter Muthalika who took centre stage in international meetings despite being a mere Adviser. Perhaps as she showed during Brian Banda’s interview, at times being humble and respectful is no weakness.

I however doubt if people surrounding her are ready to support and create the first successful female President of Malawi. I doubt that they share her vision and her outlook to life. I however agree with her on her take on the so called recycled politicians. They are first and for most Malawians. One would ask, what is the difference between the current Cabinet and BM’s cabinet? I would say the only difference is that they fear BWM than they feared BM, otherwise most remain opportunists. How I wished JB teamed up with the recent DPP “fall out” DP.

When I was in Malawi soon after 20/7, the overwhelming message I got was, Let us support JB. My cry is, “let us help build PP into a modern party that will introduce civilised and professional politics”. Then other parties may emulate what it takes to run a professional party. Imagine MCP being democratic!

The Presidency is for JB to lose. Perhaps the magic is in the “Chi Joyce Banda”. Ife ndiye Tatopa!

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