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Joyce Banda still harbours presidential ambitions

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Former president, Joyce Banda, has hinted that she might have another go at the presidency, only falling short of declaring whether she would vie for the presidency in the 2019 elections.

Banda, who is in her second year outside the country, made her position known in an interview with Voice of America’s ‘Straight Talk Africa’ host, Shaka Ssali.

“If you are talking of my political life,” she told the host, “it is Malawians that will decide. If Malawians are saying what they are saying here [an apparent reference to comments made by some viewers who opined] and want me to continue [from where I left], they want me to stand again [for the presidency], I shall go back home and answer that call. But if they are not interested for [sic] me to stand again, that’s fine,” Banda said, matter-of-factly.

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However, Ssali seemed not satisfied with the response and pressed Banda for a clear-cut position on the issue, to which the former president responded: “I am willing to serve my people.”

Banda also delved into the issue of Cashgate, the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill, the seat of government, in Lilongwe.

When she got into office in 2012, she said, she had been getting reports of money disappearing. She then cited an incident in 2012 when former European Union Ambassador to Malawi, Alexander Baum, warned her to “check” the Integrated Financial Management System ostensibly because some people were using it to siphon money from public coffers.

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“I inherited a situation where money was being looted,” Banda said, observing that those who might have been stealing before she came into office might have continued to do so during her time in office.

The former president then said she initiated the process of man-hunting the culprits, citing a September 7 2013 public announcement in which she warned Malawians of possible looting of public funds. She said she also dissolved her cabinet as one way of paving way for investigations.

She said a week after making the announcement, one suspect was caught red handed with K400 million, a development that opened a Pandora’s Box.

“That’s what a leader must do. When you are alerted, you put it bare on the table, allow investigations to take place and arrest the people… I arrested 72 people,” Banda said.

Banda also reiterated claims that there was an attempt on her life on October 19, 2010, saying this was an indication that the Democratic Progressive Party did not want her as vice-president.

Asked if she had any regrets, Banda said she had none.

Banda, who is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development and Woodrow Wilson Centre in the United States of America, said her time in office was characterised by the empowerment of women, citing the appointment of a female solicitor general, eight district commissioners, two deputy governors of the Reserve Bank of Malawi and the appointment of 100 females to various public positions.

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