Joyce Banda tipped on priorities: revamp economy and ensure good governance
President Joyce Banda says her top priority is to improve the welfare of ordinary Malawians who are facing economic hardships although she admitted this cannot be done overnight.
Banda said this in an exclusive telephone interview from Lilongwe.
"The first priority would be to revamp the economy and ensure that there is good governance. I know this is a great challenge but I thank all Malawians for having confidence in me," said Banda who until Saturday morning was the country's vice president.
The country is currently reeling from economic woes caused by her predecessor's policies which led to the withdrawal of aid from most cooperating partners.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika's combative wrangles with donors and lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have hurt the economy leaving the citizenry suffering from shortages of foreign currency and fuel coupled with the resultant inflation.
Despite the fact that her party does not have many MPs in Parliament, Banda is likely to pursue her agenda of revamping the economy and improving good governance without hurdles, as many politicians including ministers and MPs, including her former political foes, have already thrown their support behind her,
Among those who have thrown their weight behind her include, leader of opposition in parliament John Tembo.
In an interview on Sunday, Tembo said most opposition back-benchers will support government business.
"She does not have to worry at all, there is no problem, the opposition is behind her," said Tembo who is also Malawi Congress Party president.
He said he was impressed with Banda because her priorities have always been eradicating poverty among the poor.
"I believe that she will set up a programme to correct the ills we suffered under the past administration," said Tembo.
He also asked the president to scrap off what he termed bad laws enacted in Parliament under the orders of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika which include Section 46 of the Penal Code which empowers a minister to ban a newspaper.
Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda said in every parliamentary democracy, it is very critical for the government side to have a working majority in the House.
Meanwhile a number of DPP senior officials have also said they thrown their support behind Banda.
DPP second vice president Yunus Mussa, executive members of the national governing council Ken Kandodo, Ken Lipenga, Sidik Mia, John Bande and Augustine Mtendere and 20 MPs on Saturday announced their allegiance to Banda.
Asked to comment on this new development, DPP first vice president Goodall Gondwe said the whole cabinet on Saturday pledged to work with Banda.
"The whole cabinet pledged to work with her. We pledged to be loyal to her, each one of us pledged our loyalty to her," said Gondwe.
Asked if the whole DPP, which has the majority in Parliament would work with Banda in the National Assembly, Gondwe said it was too early to say whether the working relationship would include in Parliament.
On his part former Finance Minister Ken Kandodo said he and others decided to support Banda to ensure smooth transition.
"We would like to help the new president to rebuild the country. Malawi at the moment is confronted by several challenges and the new needs support from lawmakers. By working with her, Malawians will benefit from development projects," said Kandodo.
He was optimistic that the new president will get enough MPs to support government agenda in Parliament.
"We had very smooth transition according to the Constitution. There were some people from the national governing council who wanted to disrupt this smooth process but have failed. We should all celebrate because democracy has triumphed," he said.
Kandodo claimed most MPs from the north and central regions have already pledged to work with Banda.
Other politicians from the region, who has pledged their support for Banda include Abel Kayembe, Geoffrey Kamanya, Sostin Gwengwe, Lecford Thotho, DPP regional governor for the Centre Kaladzi Mbewe and Margaret Chiponda.