Many political pundits had written off the People’s Party (PP) of former President Joyce Banda, as belonging to the ravine of politics simply because the founder was away, they had concluded that the party was like a child without a mother; lost and disoriented.
Epitaphs were written and the party was at the receiving end of some intense mocking to have been experienced by any political party on the Malawian political fray. At the height of this crisis, the party suffered an exodus of members to other political parties, and the party’s former Central Region vice president, Uladi Mussa, even took advantage of JB’s absence and tried a coup de tat to wrestle power from the former president.
This was the reason why JB’s return from abroad was met with so much pomp and waltz. It was not hard to see relief among PP members; it was clear her supporters had missed her and that they expected her to fill the void over which they had been mocked for.
There was no honeymoon for JB and she did not disappoint. The former president immediately went to work to fix her party. Like an ostrich protecting her eggs from bushfires, she organized mobilization meetings throughout the country to understand and motivate her people.
At the meetings, she informed told her supporters that PP is alive and well, and that it is more than ready to take over government and rescue Malawians from the economic mess of the current DPP government. Credit to her, she has done a remarkable job of turning around the despair of her supporters into hope. She has managed to rally the PP leadership and supporters around the party’s vision and to re-engage them on its purpose of taking over the reins of government after May 21.
Her public rallies across the country have been well patronized and any political party would be foolish to ignore her and to discount the PP as a main player in the current political game. She is certainly a force to reckon with because she has no doubt injected the much needed political blood in her party and also opened the political playground so much so that May 21 will be exciting.
The former President also seems to have upped the ante and added more colour to her brand of politics. Her seriousness is palpable in the promises that she is making to Malawians.
For example, when she addressed thousands of her ecstatic supporters on New Year’s Eve at Songani Ground in Zomba, the former President of the Republic unveiled in detail her ‘Phase Two’ agenda, which she says will rectify the many problems being faced by Malawians. She said the phase two agenda will include the introduction of a MK10 billion loan scheme to motivate small scale businesses to help promote enterprise.
She also said her government will abolish the renewal of driving licenses as it is a burden to many Malawians, and vowed to end electricity blackouts (currently the worst in the history of this country) within the first 100 days of taking government. Banda added that PP has a six-themed agenda to drive her policy direction aimed at fast-tracking the social economic development, which are Environment & Energy, Education, Health, Agriculture, Wealth Creation and Social Protection.
JB, who is famed for rectifying the problem of electricity blackouts during her two years reign, said the PP-led government will introduce 3000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid and to the current 280 megawatts to cater for domestic and industrial use. On top of this, she said she will make electricity free for millions of poor Malawians particularly those who live in the rural areas of the country.
She said her Phase Two agenda also includes free secondary education with emphasis on quality. This will also apply to primary level education which she said has lost a great deal of quality despite being free. JB said her government will focus on giving university students good accommodation, quality learning material and qualified staff before venturing into constructing more universities.
On Agriculture, JB says she will introduce Universal Subsidy to allow every Malawian have access to cheap in cheap fertilizer and other inputs, and added that her administration will create conducive markets for farmers to enjoy the fruits of their toil than the slavery that they have been subjected under the DPP government. She also said once voted into office she will end problems faced in the Health sector such as lack of medicine, food and portable water.
The question that arises however is: Can JB return to power in her quest realistic? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ given the prevailing political operatives. To begin with, the current political climate is more open than it was in 2014. There are more political parties in this elections, including the People’s Party, that have equal chances of winning if only they do things right. Since JB’s return, it is obvious the PP has largely retained its political base of voters, especially looking at the fact that the coming in of UTM has disrupted the political space because the new party has substantially eaten into the support base of DPP and MCP.
JB said she will contest this election as President, which will mean she will be the only individual on the ballot who has ever been former President of this country. This will clearly give an advantage over her competitors, particularly the current President as people will now have the privilege of comparing her track record to the insipid performance of Peter Mutharika who has clearly failed to run the country.
Banda’s track record will be her biggest push in this election. For example, despite the fact that ‘Cashgate’ partly happened on her watch, she is the only President who recorded visible strides in as far as fighting corruption is concerned. As soon as unexplained boxes and stacks of money started finding their way in people’s car boots, JB was swift in arresting perpetrators and to put them through trial under the laws of the country.
This visible work rate and performance makes JB a serious competitor on 21 May and also makes PP a force not to be easily discounted. The party also looked to be prepared in as far as fielding parliamentary and ward councilor candidates, and art its recent announcement; it announced that it would be fielding candidates in 165 constituencies across the country particularly in those constituencies where its chances of winning are high. This is strategic and a mark of strength.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :