A critical look at the leadership of Joyce Banda

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Supporters of Malawi's incumbent President cheer during her final campaign rally at Songani village on the outskirts of the city of Zomba, the former capital of Malawi, May 17, 2014Voice of America(VOA)

Supporters of Malawi’s incumbent President cheer during her final campaign rally at Songani village on the outskirts of the city of Zomba, the former capital of Malawi, May 17, 2014

If the past two years have achieved anything, besides everything–between nothing and mediocrity–it is that very little has been done to convince Malawians of the value ‘some’ women can create if given the reins of power.
The nation and the world saw Joyce Banda, current president of Malawi, as a beacon of hope and a great possibility for all women in Africa. Some even called her a ‘game-changer.’

But Joyce Banda, almost single-handedly, managed to turn this national goodwill and positive energy, which characterized her ascension to leadership, into a national joke – a joke which even had its own sickening catchphrase: “Is it because I’m a woman?”

Banda’s two years at the stirring wheel of this crazy little southern African country will raise all kinds of questions about whether her leadership has hurt or bolstered the factoids that have placed women as better caretakers of homes and communities–and therefore countries–than their male counterparts.

Her chapter in the annals of history will be short, and for many Malawians, that chapter is best forgotten like a surreal nightmare that felt all too real for comfort. But, being Malawi’s first female president, her contribution and legacy these past two years, towards the fight to break the ‘Glass Ceiling’ will be debated for many years.

But one thing seems to be evident. Despite her being a woman activist in her own right, ironically Joyce Banda has helped shift the ‘Glass Ceiling’ even higher than ever before. The decades of gains made by other great Malawian women, including Vera Chirwa, Seodi White and Kate Kainja, have been eroded in such a short time – and men had nothing to do with it.
This all proves that simple life-truth that it is so easy to destroy than it is to create or build.

With that said, I must hasten to add, not all women are Joyce Banda and Joyce Banda does not represent all women. But we can’t ignore the fact that she has only confirmed the many stereotypes that Malawians, including women themselves, have had about women in leadership position and that is: women just can’t lead!

In the same vein, a similar trend is showing in the parliamentary seating. Among the many casualties during this 2014 election, which has overstayed its welcome–like a house guest who doesn’t know when to leave–surely must be the decimated women’s representation in Parliament.

The numbers have dwindled so drastically from its ‘glory days’ that its own 50-50 campaign champion, Emma Kaliya, actually vented her frustration in the media saying she would tender her resignation because she saw this ‘dwindling’ as a personal failure.

You have got to hand it to her –she is one of the few Malawians who understand personal accountability–that is if she actually resigns.

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