Former Malawi president Joyce Banda has dropped a hint on her next political move by expressing interest to contest as People’s Party (PP) presidential candidate for the 2019 elections during the party’s national convention slated for 2017.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Weekend Nation on Tuesday at her private home in Kabula, Blantyre, Banda—who is president of opposition PP—said: “It is obvious that when you are a president of a party, you are a candidate when you go to the convention.”
But Banda was quick to underline that she is not PP’s candidate for the 2019 elections.
This is in sharp contrast to what President Peter Mutharika told a mass rally in Blantyre two weeks ago that he is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate for the 2019 elections.
But he later clarified that he will contest the position alongside other aspirants.
On her part, Banda said: “I was elected as president of the party two years ago. I have a five-year mandate. In 2017, we will go for elections. In a democratic institution like ours, the party decides its torch-bearer.
“They might say Joyce Banda is old; we want somebody younger. They might say Joyce Banda is a right candidate. But that is not my decision.”
Banda—who said is currently running her welfare campaign of helping the poor—added that she will not stop reaching out to the helpless.
And despite saying she had no regrets about the two years she served as president, Banda declined to comment on her electoral defeat.
“You and I know the issues that went around during elections. Perhaps if there had been a recount, I could be able to answer that question.
“So, I think it would be wrong to drag me, the Weekend Nation and Malawians into a fresh debate. It is not necessary. We passed that,” said the former president who came third in the May 20 presidential election.
She called on Malawians to support the sitting President.
“There is a new president in the State House. I respect that President; we all must support that president for the benefit of Malawians,” she said.
Though declining, again, to comment on Mutharika’s 100 days in office, Banda expressed surprise that the media reported that her sister, former principal secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, had been moved to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
“I don’t know if she has been transferred to OPC. When she was told that she should go to OPC, OPC told her to go and sit at home. As I am talking, she is just at home,” said Banda.
Reacting to Banda’s interest to contest as PP’s presidential candidate for the 2019 elections, Chancellor College political scientist Joseph Chunga said “given her grass roots connections and the record of the ruling party’s dismal performance, Banda cannot be ruled out.”
“In Africa, opposition always stands a chance because of how ruling parties perform while in office. Though her two years in office might prove disadvantageous to her, but with time, especially if the current government continues to be nepotistic as it has started, and the weakening of the United Democratic Front (UDF), she might be an alternative,” said Chunga.
He said that, learning from experience, Banda might benefit from working with realistic coalitions.
“Elections are about comparative analysis; you never know, perhaps, she might turn out to be a lesser evil in 2019,” said Chunga.