Malawi’s immediate past former president Joyce Banda, who is People’s Party leader, has said most political leaders in the country are “woefully” out of touch with economic reality for people living in poverty and therefore do not have the necessary willpower to fight poverty.
“I have everything that it takes to live a comfortable life. But I have grown up in poverty; I know what it means to be poor. I, therefore, cannot sit back, in the comfort of my home, while many Malawians out there struggle to afford even one meal a day. I know how painful and pathetic it is to live in a grass-thatched house. I will always dedicate my life to helping the underprivileged move out of poverty,” said Banda when she addressed a political rally in Machinga South-east constituency on Sunday, August 5, 2018.
She said she would therefore not hesitate to run for president in 2019 if the party chooses her as presidential candidate, emphasizing serving people, particularly the less-privileged was her “calling”.
Banda, 68, told her jubilant supporters that while she was Head of State from 2012 to 2014, her government made many social and economic development strides, particularly in economic empowerment of the rural masses.
“During our time, we made sure that our rural farmers get better prices for their produce. We wooed back international tobacco buyers who had been deported by the previous regime. I personally negotiated with them to return and asked them to buy tobacco from our farmers at favourable prices. We did the same with other crops like peas,” said Banda, bemoaning that the status quo at present was pathetic because prices of farm produce have hit all time low.
Banda – only the second woman to lead a country in Africa – then announced that she would abolish the “selective” Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) and introduce universal fertilizer subsidy programme so that every farmer benefits and therefore improve security at both household and national levels.
The former president said she has already identified funding for the implementation of universal fertilizer subsidy programme.
She said when she will roll back “people-centred social and economic policies” in order to take Malawians out of abject poverty. Banda said for example, she would fight for better prices for farm produce, including resuscitating ADMARC so that it returns to being a reliable ready market for rural small-scale farmers.
“I will put a stop to the current frequent power cuts end in order to promote the manufacturing industry, thereby creating employment for the youths.
“It is generally agreed that reliable power expands the number and variety of businesses and job opportunities available. Uninterrupted power means that businesses such as hair salons, welders and maize mills, among others, all of which rely on electricity can function,” she said, recalling that during her tenure in office, Malawi never experienced any blackouts.
She also pledged to improve the health and education sectors, saying she would ensure that teachers and health workers work in better conditions and that conducive learning and teaching environment is created in all education institutions at all levels.
The PP leader said education is an indispensable tool for the achievement of meaningful socio-economic development of any nation and hence her government shall give education special attention.
Banda was accompanied by Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Reverend Wilson Ndomondo, national organizing secretary Ephraim Chibvunde, PP vice presidents for eastern, central and northern regions, Akajuwe Roy Kachale Banda, Beatrice Mwale and Kamlepo Kalua, respectively, among others.
Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and aid-dependent countries, will hold presidential, parliamentary and council elections in May 2019.
Banda founded the People’s Party (PP) in 2011 after splitting from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is led by President Peter Mutharika.
She came to power in 2012 when Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president’s brother, died in office. (By Nyasa Times)