Everyone’s talking about...

...Malawi’s new President!

Joyce Banda
Joyce Banda

Who's that then?

Joyce Banda was appointed Malawi's Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2006 and became Vice President following the 2009 election. The following year she was expelled from the Democratic Progressive Party after she refused to endorse President Mutharika’s brother as his successor. She went on to start her own People's Party, and despite falling out of favour with the President, maintained her state position as his deputy.

Last Saturday following the death of Mutharika , she was sworn in as Malawi’s first female President Malawi’s New President. 

Is this a significant change?

Well yes, eversince Mutharika was re-elected by a landslide in 2009, he started to show, as The Economist puts it, “an increasingly dictatorial streak.” In June 2011 Western donors suspended all aid in protest against growing human rights abuses, this coupled with a slump in tobacco prices (Malawi’s main export) led to huge problems including shortages of petrol and food triggering deep social unrest.

However, the appointment of Banda-a lifelong women’s rights activist- has been welcomed, bringing with it hopes of a fresh start for Malawi.

What has happened since she was appointed?

The Guardian reports that “Last Sunday, Banda replaced the chief of police, Peter Mukhito. The new chief, Lot Dzonzi, is known to be a human rights advocate. Other key changes – at the Treasury, the reserve bank, the ministry of information and the MBC – soon followed.

Banda is expected to reverse many of Mutharika's fiscal policies, which will allow the IMF to renew aid, and for other donors to follow. The Kwacha (Malawi’s currency)  is likely to be floated, and donors have promised to help combat the impact of devaluation on the poor. In due course, these changes should alleviate foreign exchange and fuel-shortages and get businesses and people back to work.”

What the media says...

“Banda's presidency seems set to usher in a fresh opportunity for Malawi, and many will be hoping that under her leadership the small southern African state can reclaim its tourist brochure reputation as "The Warm Heart of Africa." MSNBC

“It would be too simplistic to think that Malawi’s problems have ended with the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. But it is an opportunity for newly appointed President Joyce Banda, who is also leader of the opposition People’s Party, to step up and offer a new and more responsive style of leadership.” Newstime Africa

“The Sunday Times offers its congratulations to Her Excellency Madam Joyce Banda...We simply shout on top of our voices: Long Live Democracy and Constitutionalism!” Sunday Times (Malawi)

What she says

"I want all of us to move into the future with hope and with that spirit of oneness and unity."

About Malawi

Area: 118,000 sq km

Population: 13,066,320 (2008 Census)

Capital city: Lilongwe.)

Languages: official - English, national - Chichewa

Currency: Kwacha. Exchange rate 248.90 MK/£ (June 2009)

Article contributed by:

Sarah Ross

Creativity and innovation- are happening everyday across Africa, I'll be writing about the most exciting developments in our favourite contintent


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