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Joyce Banda settles for Jerry Jana

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By Pilirani Kanjere:

People’s Party (PP) president Joyce Banda Tuesday afternoon exuded confidence to contest for the presidency after submitting nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) at Comesa Hall in Blantyre.

Banda also unveiled economist and ex-diplomat Jerry Jana as her running mate.

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She presented the nomination papers to Mec after Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) president Peter Kuwani presented his in the morning.

Banda presented her nomination papers a day after the party’s coalition with Vice President Saulos Chilima’s UTM collapsed. PP accused their alliance partners of failing to comply with terms of the agreement, which included giving them the position of running mate.

The alliance only lasted three days.

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Banda, 68, told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday that, considering her age and the role she has played in Malawi, she would settle for Chilima to be president of the coalition.

But in a dramatic twist of events, PP has opted to go solo with Banda being the torchbearer.

She described her running mate as a formidable leader whom she knew when he headed Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry while she was at the helm of National Association of Business Women.

Clad in traditional wear with PP orange colours, she promised to transform Malawi economy using a new model she has devised with economic experts including her running mate.

“My mission in life has been to assist women and youths gain social and political empowerment through business and education,” she said.

Banda said all the issues she has championed as a public officer have been derived from her personal experiences.

She narrated the challenges she faced as a girl to adulthood and emphasised the need to educate the girl.

“As we speak now, 130 million girls worldwide, including Malawi, are not in school. It is my key to champion [the welfare of] the girl-child,” Banda said.

She, promised that her government would emphasise food security, economic growth, social protection, health and education.

Banda, who ascended to power after the death of the then President Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, finished third in the 2014 Tripartite Elections with 1,056,236 votes against incumbent Peter Mutharika’s 1,904,399 votes.

Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera came second with 1,455, 880.

Presenting his nomination papers earlier, MMD’s Kuwani unveiled Archibald Kalawang’oma as his running mate.

To the amazement of many, Kuwani and his running mate came to Chichiri Hall aboard a modest half- ton pick up.

In his speech, Kuwani failed to communicate to his supporters because of his inflated jargon cluttered prose.

However, he said the party’s agenda is to liberate Malawians from the socio-economic ills.

Kuwani also asked his supporters to go on a campaign trail devoid of castigation and violence.

“Political terror is in conflict with [tenets] of democracy… We have to practice what we preach that Malawi is a Warm Heart of Africa,” he said.

Kuwani asked Mec to level the play-field ahead of the tripartite elections.

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