Malawi cabinet is for ‘reconciliation’—JB

President Joyce Banda has reiterated that for the first time in the history of Malawi, and under her leadership, an inclusive cabinet made up of ministers from various parties was formed when she took over the reigns of power on April 7, 2012 as a reconciliatory measure.

The Malawi leader said this when she presented a Keynote Address at the 7th African First Ladies for Peace Mission (AFLPM) Summit in Abuja, Nigeria that ran from July 24 to 27, 2012.

“I did this not because I did not have my party supporters who I could put as ministers, no, I did this because I believed that Malawi needed healing and reconciliation, and one of the first steps to that healing was putting together an inclusive cabinet.

“Hon. Rachel Zulu, my Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is here with me at this Summit, did not belong to my party, she was from a different party, but now she is part of my Government,” said President Banda.

President Banda (rights) pose with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Nigeria's First Lady at a summit of Africa's First Ladies in which the Malawi leader was a special guest

Healing

President Banda told the distinguished gathering that she attained the High Office of the President of the Republic of Malawi following the untimely death of the Former President, Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5, 2012.

“At the time of his passing, those of you that were following events in Malawi will agree with me that Malawi was a divided nation on many fronts. The events around my succession almost brought the country to conflict and blood shed,” noted the Head of State

Banda added that the country was so polarized that when she finally took office on April 7, some people thought the country will not hold and others believed that she would harbour vengeance and punish those that persecuted her for when she was Vice President.

She said, however, being a mother, a woman, and a God Fearing leader, she was aware it was incumbent upon her to heal the nation from its wounds of disunity, nepotism, and divisive partisan politics.

“As such, within my first month as President, I reached out to all parties in Malawi and asked them to join me to move the nation of Malawi forward,” she said, adding she puts the needs of Malawi first, before the needs of her own party because the former was the greater good.

Reforms

According to the President, apart from the decision of an inclusive government, she also made sure that the Malawi Electoral Commissioners, who oversee the national elections, are drawn from all political parties so that Malawi has a credible General Election in 2014.

“I have also asked my office to set up a permanent dialogue platform with various stakeholders to ensure that we resolve our differences amicably, and that Malawi does not get to the brink of conflict as was the case under the previous government,” Banda said.

Furthermore, President Banda said she appointed a female Deputy Inspector General of Police with the confidence that she will assist her in curbing violence against women and children and bringing security and integrity to women.

“Excellencies, I intend to continue to make strides to facilitate reconciliation among Malawians in an effort to ensure peace is sustained. I believe my leadership as a woman has to be different; it has to be leadership that brings harmony, tolerance and unity among Malawians. And thank God the task is easier because I got the training as a manager of my own household and as mother of nine children.”

Peace

President Banda said Africa needs more women leaders that can bring a difference to the African Continent.

“I believe women will bring more attention to issues of peace and security into high level decision making bodies, and this will be good for the continent. I am pleased that this Summit will look at peace from a broader perspective,” said President Banda.

The convener of the summit was the First Lady of Nigeria Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan. Its theme was “The African Woman: A Voice for Peace”.

There were four sub-themes, which included “Advocating the Role of the African Woman in Leadership (inclusion of deserving women in organs of authority); Overcoming the Gender Barrier (stimulating a paradigm shift in limiting cultures); Increasing Skills and Capacity of the African Woman (developing the voice of peace in places of authority); and Creating Economically Independent Women through Entrepreneurship (skill acquisition, development for a and mentorship programme).

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