By Gregory Gondwe
Newly installed President Joyce Banda faces her biggest challenge in parliament where her People’s Party which was formed after the general elections were held has no members of parliament.
But the expectation is that since this is like history repeating itself, the former dead President Bingu wa Mutharika also ditched the ruling United Democratic Front that put him into power and formed his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which first got six MPs through a by-elections while also enjoying a mass exodus of parliamentarians that crossed the floor from other parties.
This however did not assist him to muster a majority that was required as on several occasions the national budget would be easily blocked by opposition bloc that had numerical prowess.
Unless she enters in coalition with other political parties that have MPs in parliament, this would be the biggest challenge.
But perhaps another biggest challenge equal in magnitude is mending bridges burnt by his predecessor with countries and institutions that give aid to the country.
Her getting into power was not smooth considering the power struggle that ensued after it was known, Bingu had died.
In fact it is the power struggle that made it difficult for government cabinet members to come into the open to accept that indeed the President had died.
A night before she was sworn in, four cabinet ministers and two deputies told the nation that ‘the conduct of the honourable Joyce Banda in forming her own opposition party’ when she was expelled from ruling Democratic Progressive Party – DPP ‘precludes her from being legible to succeed Mutharika and they went on to say they wondered that as of yesterday Mrs. Joyce Banda was informing the public of a takeover as if there is a vacancy.’
The plus for Banda was that the civil society organizations, Malawi Defence Force, The Police and the Civil Service starting with its head Chief Secretary Bright Msaka SC were of the view that the constitutional requirement that she should take over was to be followed.
The major differences between the former President and the newly sworn in President Joyce Banda are one that led to her expulsion from the party in December 2010.
At every opportunity the president, his wife and most cabinet ministers would throw an insult or two towards Banda but the major change with power transfer was apparent when she first held a press briefing earlier on the day that she was sworn in, where a major split within former President’s cabinet was seen when some senior cabinet ministers pledged their allegiance to Banda.
It is expected that human trafficking, child labor and violence against women will also be some of the major issues in reign.
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As a Gender minister between 2004 and 2006 President Joyce Banda spearheaded the enactment of a law on gender that dealt with disparities that existed between men and women at that time.
She also established institutions of learning at Secondary and primary school levels under Joyce Banda foundation that provide bursaries to orphans and vulnerable children as one way of dealing with Human Trafficking and child labour.
She also facilitated establishment of institutions that used to give out loans to women which she believed helped reduce violence against them on the premise that if women are not economically empowered they can easily suffer abuse.
I think we have an exciting time ahead of us with general shake-up that has already seen replacement of inspector general of Police.