Sunday, 27 July 2014


                                     BLACK              SOCIAL            HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joyce Hilda Banda (née Mtila; born 12 April 1950) is a Malawian politician who was the President of Malawi from 7 April 2012 to 31 May 2014. She is the founder and leader of the People's Party, created in 2011.[1]
An educator and grassroots women's rights activist, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice-President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012.[2]
Banda took office as president following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was Malawi's fourth president[3] and its first female president. Before becoming president, she served as the country's first female vice-president.[4]
She was a member of parliament and Minister for Gender, Children's Affairs and Community Services. Before her active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.
In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.[5]

Personal and family life

Joyce Hilda Ntila[6] was born on 12 April 1950 in Malemia, a village in the Zomba District of Nyasaland (now Malawi).[7][8] Her father was an accomplished and popular police brass band musician. She began her career as a secretary and became a well-known figure during the rule of dictator Hastings Banda (no relation).[9]
She has a Cambridge School Certificate,[10] a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus University an unaccredited distance education institution[4] a Bachelor of Social Studies in Gender Studies from the Atlantic International University, USA, another unaccredited distance education institution and a Diploma in Management of NGOs from the International Labour Organization (ILO) Centre in Turin, Italy. Currently, she is reading for a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership at Royal Roads University in Canada.[11] She received an honorary doctorate in 2013 from Jeonju University.[12]
She married Roy Kachale with whom she had three children. By age 25, she was living in Nairobi, Kenya.[13] In 1975, a growing women's movement in Kenya motivated Banda to take her three children and leave what she has described as an abusive marriage.[14] Her marriage to Roy Kachele ended in 1981. She is now married to Richard Banda, retired Chief Justice of the Republic of Malawi with whom she has two children.[15][16]
Between 1985 and 1997 Banda managed and established various businesses and organisations including Ndekani Garments (1985), Akajuwe Enterprises (1992), and Kalingidza Bakery (1995).[10] Her success moved her to help other women achieve financial independence and break the cycles of abuse and poverty.[17]
She is sister to Anjimile Oponyo, former CEO of the[18] Raising Malawi Academy for Girls founded by Madonna.[19]

Political life

Public offices (1999–2009)

Joyce Banda entered politics in 1999. She won a parliamentary seat in Malawi's third democratic election as a member of president Bakili Muluzi's party. She represented the Zomba-Malosa constituency.[17] Muluzi named her minister for Gender and Community Services.[9] As minister, she fought to enact the Domestic Violence Bill, which had failed for seven years. She designed the National Platform for Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse.[17]
In 2004, she was re-elected as a member of Muluzi's Party. Bingu wa Mutharika became president. Even though Banda was not a member of his party, Mutharika appointed her as foreign minister in 2006. Banda moved to change Malawi's recognition of the legitimate government of China from the Republic of China (on Taiwan) to the People's Republic of China on the mainland; she claimed the switch would bring economic benefits to Malawi.[9] In 2010, China finished the construction of a new parliament building in Lilongwe.[20]

Vice-President (2009–2012)

Banda ran as the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2009 presidential election, running alongside Mutharika, the DPP presidential candidate.[21] She served as Malawi's first female vice-president, before becoming the country's first woman president on Mutharika's death. In a surprise move by the DPP, Joyce Banda and second vice-president Khumbo Kachali were fired as the vice-Presidents of the DPP on 12 December 2010 for undefined 'anti-party' activities.[22] In attempts to ostracise her, the president had continued to give roles that were previously held by her to Callista Mutharika who was included in the cabinet in September 2011.[23] The court had blocked attempts by Bingu wa Mutharika to fire her as Vice-President on constitutional grounds. This included attempts to seize her official government vehicle and to block her from registering her new party.[24][25] On 8 September 2011, the role of Vice-President was left out in a cabinet reshuffle. However, she was still the legal Vice-President of the country as mandated by the constitution.[23] She was urged by DPP spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba to resign as Vice-President.[26]

Factions in DPP

The relationship between her and the previous President of MalawiBingu wa Mutharika had become increasingly tense because of Mutharika's attempts to position his own brother, Peter Mutharika as the successor of the party and as the next president of the country.[22] Although she was fired from the position as Vice-President of the DPP together with second Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, she continued to serve as Vice-President of Malawi as stipulated in the constitution of the Republic of Malawi.[22] This move led to mass resignations in the DPP and the formation of networks that supported her candidacy to become President of Malawi in the 2014 general election.[27] The DPP denied that mass resignations had occurred and insisted that they were only a few.[27]

People's Party

Joyce Banda is the founder and leader of the People's Party, formed in 2011 after Banda was expelled from the ruling DPP when she refused to endorse President Mutharika's younger brother Peter Mutharika as the successor to the presidency for the 2014 general election.[28][29]

President (2012 – May 2014)

Transition of power

On 5 April 2012, President Mutharika died.[30] After his death the government failed to notify the public in a timely manner that the president had died. This led to the fear of aconstitutional crisis in Malawi.[31][32][33][34]
Agence France-Presse reported Malawi's ex-President Bakili Muluzi as insisting on "constitutional order", saying the vice-president must automatically take power under the constitution. "I am calling for a constitutional order, for continued peace and order. The laws of Malawi are very clear that the vice president takes over" when the sitting president can no longer govern. We have to avoid a situation where there is disorder. Let us follow the constitution. We have no choice but follow the constitution. It's very important that there must be peace and calm."[35] Malawi's security forces also wanted the constitutional order to prevail.[36] The Malawi Law Society confirmed that under section 83(4) of theconstitution of Malawi, she is the legitimate successor to the Presidency.[37]
On 7 April, Malawi's cabinet sought a court order to block Banda from becoming president. In turn, she phoned the army commander, General Henry Odillo, and asked if he would support her. He agreed and stationed troops around her house.[38]
Joyce Banda was sworn in on 7 April 2012 as President of Malawi, the first woman to hold the office.[39] Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo presided over the ceremony which was held at the National Assembly in Lilongwe.[30] After she was sworn in, Banda appealed for national unity. "I want all of us to move into the future with hope and with the spirit of oneness and unity... I hope we shall stand united and I hope that as a God-fearing nation we allow God to come before us, because if we don't do that then we have failed."[39]
The Malawian and international media reported on Joyce Banda's smooth inauguration. They called it a triumph for democracy. A Malawi Sunday Times editorial said that the new president's inauguration had "helped to entrench and cement a democratic culture in the country."[3]

Cabinet appointments

On 26 April 2012, President Banda chose her cabinet; 23 ministers and nine deputy ministers. She gave herself several key portfolios to strengthen her own power as the country's leader.[40]
On 10 October 2013, a few days after returning from a trip to the UN, President Joyce Banda sacked her cabinet following the Capital Hill Cashgate scandal.[41][42] On 15 October, a new cabinet was appointed, and notably Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara were dropped from the cabinet. In May 2014 Joyce Banda was heavily defeated in the Presidential election. She failed in an attempts to nullify the election. After the swearing in of the winner Peter Muthirika (brother to her former adversary the late President Bingu Mwatharike) she offered him her congratualtions. 

International relations

During Mutharika's presidency, Malawi was left in a poor economic situation due to foreign relations under the Mutharika administration. Within the last year of Mutharika's presidency, Britain, the United States, Germany, Norway, the European Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank had all suspended financial aid. They had expressed concern for Mutharika's attacks on democracy domestically and his increasingly erratic policies. In March 2012, Mutharika told these foreign donors to "go to hell." He accused them of plotting to bring down his government.[43] Part of Banda's challenge as president is to restore diplomatic ties with the aid donors. She also has the challenge of restoring diplomatic ties with Malawi's neighbours like Mozambique, and regional countries such as Botswana.
Within the first week of her presidency, Banda launched a diplomatic offensive to repair Malawi's international relations.[44] She spoke to Henry Bellingham of the United Kingdom's Foreign Office. He assured her that a new British envoy will be sent "within the shortest time possible." She spoke to the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton promised to resume discussions on the $350 million energy grant as soon as possible. Banda announced plans to speak to Baroness Ashton of the European Union's Foreign Affairs office and the Malawi's IMF Resident Representative, Ruby Randall. She and Zambian president Michael Sata had also conferred about resuming close working relations.[44] At least partly to further please donors, Banda's administration also refused in June 2012 to host that July's African Union summit on the grounds that the AU had insisted that Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir be given assurances that Malawi would refuse to serve the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him; the Cabinet decided that such conditions were unacceptable.[45] President Banda is named by Forbes as the 40th most powerful woman in the world, the highest African name on the list.[5]

Domestic policy

Malawi's flag was created in 1964 and readopted by MPs in 2012.

Malawi's unpopular 2010–2012 flag.
On 18 May 2012, Banda announced her intention to overturn Malawi's ban on homosexuality. The measure was reported to already have the support of a majority of MPs. If successful, it would make Malawi the second African nation to legalise same-sex sexual activity since 1994.[46]Amnesty International reported in early November 2012 that Malawi had "suspended" laws criminalising homosexuality pending a vote.[47]
On the advice of the International Monetary Fund, Banda devalued the Malawian kwacha in May 2012, breaking with the late President Bingu wa Mutharika, who had refused to do so. The announcement of the kwacha's devaluation by 33 per cent against the United States dollar, an attempt to attract donor funding, prompted "panic-buying" in Malawian cities, the BBC News reported.[48]
In June 2012, to reduce the government spendings, Joyce Banda decided to sell her jet and a fleet of 60 luxury cars. However proceeds from the sale of the jet failed to be accounted for. An explanation given by Joyce Banda was that the jet had been sold to an arms company in South Africa with whom the Government of Malawi had an outstanding debt and so the jet was used to offset this debt. No paperwork or evidence has been made available to back up that claim. On 17 January 2013, thousands of Malawians protested in Blantyre against rising inflation after Banda, joined by IMF chief Christine Lagarde, defended the devaluation of the kwacha and said she would not reverse the decision.[49][50]


After the flag was changed in 2010 by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), there was public opposition. Many groups challenged the legitimacy of the flag. 28 May 2012, Banda led the nation's MPs to vote to revert the flag back to its independence flag, which was originally adopted in 1964. All parties, except the DPP, voted in favour of this reverting to the independence flag.[51]

Joyce Banda Foundation

Before becoming vice-president, she was the founder and CEO of the Joyce Banda Foundation.[52] for better Education, a charitable foundation that assists Malawian children and orphans through education. It is a complex of primary and secondary schools in the Chimwankhunda area of Blantyre. It includes an orphan care center that consists of six centres and 600 children.[53] It also assists the surrounding villages by providing micro-credit to 40 women and 10 youth groups. It provided seeds to over 10,000 farmers and has provided other donations. The foundation has constructed four clinics in four of the 200 villages it assists. The foundation also assists in rural development. It has a partnership with the Jack Brewer Foundation, a global development foundation founded by NFL star, Jack Brewer.

National Association of Business Women

Banda is the founder of the National Association of Business Women in Malawi that was established in 1990. It is a registered non-profit foundation in Malawi.[54] The association aims to lift women out of poverty by strengthening their capacity and empowering them economically.[55] This is a social network of 30,000 women, dedicated to supporting women's businesses and supporting women who want to participate in business. Its activities include business training, technical training, record keeping and management skills.[55] They work towards creating dialogue with policymakers to make policies favourable to women business owners.[56] Its current director is Mary Malunga.[56] The foundation has a partnership with the Netherlands-based Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (Hivos) at The Hague since 2003.[55]

Philanthropy and development initiatives

Banda has been involved with many grassroots projects with women since the age of 25 to bring about policy change, particularly in education. She founded the Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Education. She founded the Young Women Leaders Network, National Association of Business Women and the Hunger Project in Malawi. She (jointly with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique) was awarded the 1997 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger by the Hunger Project, a New York-based non-governmental organisation. She used the prize money to fund the building of the Joyce Banda foundation for children.[53] In 2006, she received the International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women for her dedication to the rights of the women of Malawi by the Americans for United Nations Population Fund.[17]
She served as commissioner for "Bridging a World Divided" alongside personalities such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, and United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson.[10] Banda was also member of the Advisory Board for Education in Washington DC, and on the advisory board for the Federation of World Peace and Love in Taiwan (China).[10]
As part of a government move on austerity measures in October 2012, Banda cut her salary by 30%. She also announced that the presidential jet would be sold.[57]

Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

In 2010, Banda became a member of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health,[58] a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity.[58] Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders seek to mobilise the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals.[58]


National awards

  • Woman of the Year, Malawi, 1997[10]
  • Woman of the Year, Malawi, 1998[10]
  • Nyasa Times Multimedia 'Person of the Year', 2010[59]

International awards

  • Martin Luther King Drum Major Award, 2012, Washington DC[60]
  • Legends Award for Leadership, 2012, Greater African Methodist Episcopal Church[61]
  • Women of Substance Award, 2010, African Women Development Fund[62]
  • Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, 1997, Hunger Project of NY[10]
  • International award for entrepreneurship development, 1998, Africa Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)[10]
  • 100 Heroines award, 1998, Rochester, New York[10]
  • Certificate of Honors, 2001, Federation of World Peace and Love, Taiwan, Republic of China[10]


  • Most powerful Woman in the World 2014, Forbes - #40[5]
  • Most powerful Woman in the World 2013, Forbes Magazine – rank # 47
  • Most powerful Woman in the World 2012, Forbes Magazine – rank # 71
  • Most powerful Woman in Africa 2012, Forbes Magazine – rank No. 1
  • Most powerful woman in Africa 2011, Forbes Magazine – rank No. 3