17 February 2014

Malawi: As Malawi Gears for Presidential Polls, Banda's Halo Slips


In May, just a few weeks after South Africa, Malawi will go to the polls. Despite never having won an election before, President Joyce Banda is hoping to remain in charge - this time with a real mandate from the people. But it won't be easy.

Although her presidency began brightly, she's falling into some of the same traps as her notoriously corrupt predecessor, and people are beginning to notice.

Before Nelson Mandela died, most South Africans didn't know who Joyce Banda was. They certainly would not have been able to pick Malawi's president out of a line-up. But then she came to his funeral, and gave a simply magnificent speech, concluding with this unforgettable, Madiba-inspired advice: "Leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve, and them falling in love with you."

She was eloquent, moving, and deeply personal. Malawi was in safe hands, we felt, and the international community concurred. On taking over the presidency and appearing to right many of her predecessor's wrongs, Banda was lauded widely.

Malawians might feel a little differently. Last week, on Valentine's Day, President Banda submitted her nomination papers to the Independent Electoral Committee, confirming that she ...

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