H.E. President Joyce Banda P. Courtesy
When current Malawi President Joyce Mtila Banda, then Vice President, ascended to power after the sudden death of Bingu wa Mutharika, many thought Malawi would breathe fresh air. This was especially so after Mutharika’s wrangles with her and the international community paralyzed the economy of Malawi. The situation worsened after he tried to appoint his brother VP knowingly he’d succeed him shall anything happen as it happened.
Also Mutharika was at loggerhead with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank after refusing to devalue Malawi Kwacha. The whole kerfuffle started after Mutharika purchased a presidential jet which now Banda wants to sell.
When Banda took over, she took some measures such as devaluing the Kwacha, getting closer to the common citizenry and many more so as to entice and please the donors who resumed aids and loans to Malawi forthwith. To crown it all, she went a mile ahead vowing to legalize homosexuality in Malawi. Ironically, she thought this is what Malawians needed most. She was quoted saying, "Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed.” Such steps made Banda a heroine overnight especially for western countries. Again, politics is a dirty game and those playing are likely to be dirtier than the game itself.
Due to some ‘sound and different’ measures to please donors that Banda took to revive Malawi’s image after being tainted by Mutharika, many believed she’d change Malawi for the better. Luckily though, as the days go by, a true Banda started to surface. She started to contradict herself. Eight month down the road, Banda seems to be repeating exactly what her predecessor did. The Nyasa times had this to say, “Eight months, the majority of those getting government contracts have political connections to the ruling People’s Party (PP).”
Interestingly, the poverty that Banda promised to fight is increasing among the Malawians. According to the Huffington Post, In October 2011 that Banda slashed her salary by 30% so as to feed hungry Malawians. This was seen as an exemplary and selfless act. Again, looking at what is currently going on in Malawi, Banda becomes more controversial than her predecessor. It was reported that she was recently awarded an honorary PhD by South Korean University of Jeoju. After being awarded the said degree, Banda ordered her portraits reprinted so that the new higgledy piggledy title would appear before her name. This shocked many due to the fact that it needs a lot of money--- the same money Banda wanted to feed poor Malawians. It is the same money Banda thinks the presidential jet consumes.
Many wonder why Banda wants an honorary degree to be a title while it is not a title for the person who did not toil for it. Given that Banda promised to do things differently from Mutharika (who was allegedly held a fake PhD from unaccredited-Hawaii-based Pacific Western University), such a move made her look like a hypocrite if not a self-seeker. Sadly though, she did the same thing Mutharika once did when he ordered his portraits to be reprinted after being awarded honorary professorship of Economics by East China Normal University. By then, Banda was among those who opposed this move. She, too, abhorred calling Mutharika Ngwazi the title the former Dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda preferred.
To cut a long story short, lack of education and moral grounds for some African rulers is becoming another big problem for Africa. They are fooled by foreign universities that aim at gaining influence. They award them honorary degrees they used abusively like the case of Banda. Some African rulers such as those of Malawi, The Gambia, Tanzania and others like to be referred to as Doctors knowingly that honorary degrees have nary become a title legally especially for those who did not toil for them. They like to lie to themselves. Their love of being regarded as elites even if they are not wouldn't be a problem had they restricted it. But given that they are extending it to spending public purse, indeed it is becoming another big anathema for our economy. Again, is Banda becoming another disaster for Malawi? Who knows?
Source: Nyasa Times and The African Executive Magazine Feb.,13, 2013