The Rise and Fall of Joyce Banda and the Pains of Politics of Vengeance

 “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela

It was really shocking to learn about the resignation of Mia from the ministerial position and also the People’s Party where he was the vice president for the southern province. The shock was in consideration that Mia is one of the few politicians in our country who beside politics, have people at heart. Mia is the Kingpin of the lower shire and it is indisputable that the constituents love him. He may have switched parties but he is not that greedy as others. Switching parties may not only be a personal problem but also constitutional potholes. He may have changed parties to avoid frustrating development projects in his constituency influenced by shameless government interference to opposition members. Well, it has happened and no one can decide otherwise except himself.

All of us know how president Banda rose to power. She tells us that she was one time married to a violent husband and divorced and later got married to Richard Banda, a step upward. She has been a successful business woman. She held a number of ministerial positions including that of foreign affairs and gender. Through the demise of late president Bingu wa Mutharika, she ascended to power as Malawi leader.  Besides being the Malawi leader, she is also the SADC chairperson. This is the rise of Joyce Banda, a rise through one’s misfortune and the constitutional shortcomings.

Like Joyce Banda’s preceding leaders, her bitterness and greed are leading to her downfall. Malawi leaders, (probably apart from Kamuzu who kept friendship with Britain after getting independence) have sold their popularity by banking grudges against their predecessors which is one reason why Malawi is trailing behind in development. As a way of showing Malawians that leadership has changed hands, Bakili Muluzi arrested Kamuzu Banda. He maltreated the old man which others believe led to Hastings’ early grave. Instead of doing things better, Bakili wasted time mistreating Kamuzu’s sympathisers. For fear of the equal measure, Bakili Muluzi fought for third and open term but unsuccessfully. Yes, treat others as you would like them treat you (Matthew 7:12). Bakili brought an outsider (Bingu wa Mutharika) to UDF leadership whom he thought was a coward hoping that he would shield his corrupt practices. Indeed those who accuse others are as guilty as those they accuse. Bakili accused Kamuzu of corruption and autocracy but soon after getting out of power, Bingu instructed for a long hand of the law to pursue him.

Bingu’s first term was a success because he wanted to prove the opposition parties wrong. Many other MPs followed Bingu when he formed DPP to add his numbers in parliament. After winning with landslides in 2009, he changed the leadership style and embarked on the journey of silencing his critiques. The fear engulfed Malawi once more. Bingu’s intentions were to manifest his powers having spiced by the numbers in parliament. The autocracy was the spirit of vengeance. Hetherwick Ntaba even boasted that since DDP was the majority, the opposition wasn’t to cry foul saying, they had their share before 2009. DDP passed a number of draconian laws to frustrate the opposition parties. They in the process lost popularity. Oh, yes, as late professor Wangari Mathai of Kenya noted, when you want to have everything for yourself, that’s when you’ve actually lost everything. Bingu expelled Joyce Banda so that his brother could take over from him, but he died before the end of his term thereby ushering Joyce Banda and her PP into government. DPP lost everything. The pain of politics of vengeance is that political leaders waste time protecting their interests but at the end they sell out their popularity. The pain of vengeance costs the avenger more than the one targeted because if you happen not to succeed on time, you live a stressful life which may lead to early grave. When you are a national leader, citizens also suffer in the process because the tax money is used in pursuing vengeance court cases instead of development. It is unfortunate that most Malawi leaders didn’t leave bitterness behind, whereby costing the citizenry. I am not saying that we let criminals go free, but let the allegations be genuine not as a result of lip services and bitterness.

President Joyce Banda

President Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda’s case is not different either. Since she was maltreated by the Bingu government, she has wasted time on vengeance, commanding the arrest of this one and that one, firing this one and that one out of bitterness. Nelson Mandela realised that if he didn’t leave his bitterness and hatred behind, he’d still be in prison and because of his forgiveness, South Africa is far ahead of other African countries in development. If Mandela sowed a seed of vengeance, his successors would do the same and South Africa wouldn’t be successful. Vengeance costs development. Many people have warned against neglecting the implementation of section 65, but ruling parties thought it’s by their side. Now it is the ruling party losing influential members such as Chilumpha and Mia, what do you say? To make matters worse, instead of reflecting on Mia’s resignation, amayi has gone ahead of her shadow to fire Mia’s brother thereby losing more votes. Neglecting section 65 is now costing the ruling party and if PP loses election, the defectors are likely to make Banda’s life a living hell because they know her blunders better. I suggest we don’t give DPP and PP the helm of power because their bitterness against each other is fresh and they may waste more time on vengeance than development. Politicians don’t realise that development is the powerful campaign tool of all and not witch-hunting.

By rushing to offer a press statement on Mia’s resignation, Banda concedes that Mia’s departure is a big blow to her than of Chilumpha because when Chilumpha resigned, PP didn’t release a statement. This is a reflection of the stomach full of tears and a bitter heart. Well, expect more defections (influenced by greed) in February as the dead line month for submission of election nomination documents. Banda was warned not to take opportunists into her government but she wouldn’t listen; now this is her downfall. By the way, is Chris Daza around? I am sure he is regretting to have left MCP because he has no chance to win a seat through PP password which is long expired.

My fellow Malawians, let’s vote for development not vengeance. God bless Malawi!

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