- Party keeps tight lid on discussions
- She is not a fugitive—says party
Stay-away former president Joyce Banda on Sunday met People’s Party (PP) top brass in South Africa, but the party has kept the agenda of the meeting under wraps.
Also curious is why Banda did not fly into Malawi for the meeting, preferring to huddle with the PP team in South Africa.
PP vice-president (Southern Region) Brown Mpinganjira yesterday confirmed attending the meeting in South Africa, but referred The Nation’s further queries to party spokesperson Ken Msonda.
Besides Mpinganjira, other delegates to the meeting with Banda were PP vice-president (Central Region) Uladi Mussa, PP vice-president (Northern Region) Harry Mkandawire and Msonda.
Msonda, who described the meeting as “very important”, refused to give details of what was discussed.
Said Msonda: “The party will issue a statement as to what transpired at the meeting.”
He could also not say why the meeting was held in South Africa, just over two hours away on a plane.
Banda, who ascended to the presidency on April 7 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika with whom she had a strained political relationship, has been abroad since losing the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
She lost to Bingu’s party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by Peter Mutharika having finished third in the presidential race.
Banda’s continued stay abroad where she is reported to be addressing international conferences and meetings, among others, has raised eyebrows in some quarters on why she does not want to return home.
Mpinganjira refused to comment on whether Banda is a fugitive or in self-exile while Msonda dismissed suggestions that the former president is on the run, saying she has not committed any crime.
Said Msonda: “In a democratic dispensation, no sitting head of State the world over can just wake up and decide to arrest a former head of State without reasons or based on cooked-up allegations. This is digging an own grave.”
Mpinganjira said Banda remains the PP leader and that the party is still functioning through its structures despite her absence.
Political analyst Blessings Chinsinga of Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said Banda’s absence on the political scene has no much effect on the party considering the behaviour of political leaders in the country.
Said Chinsinga: “We have political leaders who are around, but are doing nothing to add any value to the party. I, therefore, see no difference on whether she is around or not.”
Last week, Banda was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia attending a Women In Parliaments Global Forum Summit whose organisers included the United Nations and European Union.
Since leaving the country last year, Banda has spent most of her time in the United States of America. While in America, she has been active on the speaking circuits.