Malawi and Joyce Banda: The journey to the ‘Promised Land’

I open my writing with the quotation by Merilee S. Grindle who convincingly stated that, “Indeed, it is all too clear that when governments perform poorly, resources are wasted, services go undelivered, and citizens especially the poor are denied social, legal, and economic protection”.

Since its independence in 1964, Malawi has gone through series of political transformations; from one-party system to politics of participation (Democracy) and from democracy to politics of patronage, nepotism and god-father. Since the departure of the colonial master, the country has experienced four different leaderships that could be categorically analyzed by looking at the politics and decision-making process of each head of State and government (but not in this write up).

When Malawi embraced multiparty democracy in 1993 and it became a multiparty unitary state, Malawians had a greater expectation and bestowed their trust in their leaders to uplift and change their lives from poverty to sustainable development.

President Banda can also dance.( In red is Dr. Ericka Bennet). Photo courtesy of Living Klimanjira

When Dr Bakili Muluzi took over the seat from the iron man Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he tried to improve the lives of the citizens by promoting democratic values that could pave way for the Malawians to take part in politics of their country. Good governance principles were introduced. Decentralization of the political governance through local government authorities and developmental powers were vested in the hands of local citizens. For the first time, Malawians tasted the freedom of expression and participation among others.

The dramatic change and dilemma of Malawi politics emerged when the handpicked successor of Muluzi; Bingu Wa Mutharika assumed the power and ditched out of the party which sponsored him into power. The observation of rule of Law, respect of Human Rights and other basic fundamental principles of good governance faced a natural death  hence became the song of the old days.
In his song entitled Mabala; Lucius Banda sung “inu mumati zidzakhala choncho mpakaliti abale…ana amulungu sangakhale akulira masiku onse amoyo wawo….analanda ufumu kalero naupeleka kwa oyenera..” Meaning; how long do you think this malaise will go on?…children of God will not keep on shading tears throughout their lives…He (Lord) snatched the leadership from the tyranny to the right people. Which simply put that, freedom is coming tomorrow!

Indeed today it’s President Joyce Banda’s epoch. How different her government is from the other former administrations? As the first Southern African female president (a Mayi as many Malawians proudly call her); what expectations do Malawians and people of the southern region of Africa and the African continent in general have? In my standpoint, without casting any single doubt, I believe that as a mother and a woman who has a good motherhood trend in promoting the lives of fellow women and children in the country she can take Malawi to a place that Malawians have been waiting for.

When we look at her few and accountable days in office, we are not uncertain to argue that Malawi has experienced a number of changes in all aspects; starting from politics to development, from domestic to foreign policy. I strongly believe that Malawians still remember the sour relationship that the Bingu administration viciously created with our neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Zambia. As a mother, JB systematically restored the relationships with the aforesaid countries, a development that brought hope to many Malawians and the people of the southern African region that Malawi is moving towards a good political direction.

In domestic issues, the Joyce Banda administration has confidently restored the hope in the hearts of Malawians that her government is not there to milk tax-payer’s money from the government confers or to master the people but rather  to serve and  deliver goods and services at a reasonable cost. It is a pleasant development to all Malawians that the fuel price has gone down. Now petro is at K441.10 from K490 per litre and diesel at K445.60 from K475 respectively. Hopefully this plausible development will lead to the price reduction of other commodities such as the daily basic needs of the poor citizens.

Malawians studying abroad who have gone through difficulties to receive money from their relatives during the so called financial crisis ,now are enjoying the fruits of the three months old government which has opened doors for banks to send money outside of the country due to the availability of the foreign hard currencies mainly the  US$. I don’t forget how much my wife struggled in 2011 when she was flabbergasted by the Banks that she cannot send money to her husband due to unavailability of Forex in the country. Then, my question was, how can Malawian students studying abroad survive? Should they just call it a day and go back home? But still how could they purchase travelling tickets without receiving money from home?

After Malawians lost their hope because of the financial crisis created by the Mutharika administration; a Mayi has served the nation by doing what all it takes her government to do to solve the crisis. NO fuel, No Forex, and Electricity (black-out) is the old story today that parents will simply tell their children as part of history that has just been made by the Mutharika regime in a couple of months ago. Unequivocally, yes I see Malawi turning back to its feet through the wisdom and leadership of a Mayi and her administration. The journey to the Promised Land (better and quality sustainable lives of Malawians) has just begun but its early fruits are very much promising.

*The Author of this article is a Malawian student at the International Islamic university Malaysia pursuing Master’s Degree in Political Science   

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