Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Is Joyce Banda the answer to Malawi ’s problems?

By Isaac Esipisu

The continents’ newest and second Africa’s  female president took over the reins of power in Malawi to offer a new and more responsive style of leadership that is expected to spur economic recovery of one of Africa’s poorest nation. Joyce Banda was sworn in as president two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of heart attack at 78.

The new president, Joyce Banda started her presidency in an enthusiastic and robust way; mending ties with foreign donors that could see Malawi pull out of an economic crisis. The new president of Zambia , Michael Sata, is making the transition easier, contributing 5 million litres of petrol that should help the economy. Banda, a 61-year-old policeman’s daughter who won recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, now enjoys widespread support among a population whose lives grew increasingly difficult under Mutharika

Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, also got off to a good start in 2004.   Malawi was at the time the darling of international donors. Programmes to subsidize fertilizer and provide seeds to farmers created an economic revival that made it one of the world’s fastest growing economies. But his fortunes turned dramatically and upon his death many Malawians were openly celebrating his passing.

In 2005 the country declared a national disaster as more than five million people were in need of food aid because of widespread shortages due to bad harvests. However, three years later the country produced a bumper harvest, turning it into the breadbasket of the region, mainly because of the success of Mutharika’s fertiliser and seed subsidy programme.

Stumbling block for the Pharaohs?

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Egypt might have won the last two African Nations Cup tournaments but the Pharaohs seem to have hit a stumbling block when it comes to the World Cup.

For all their prowess at the last two continental championships, and their glittering array of successes at club level, Egyptian soccer is becoming increasingly haunted by the spectre of continued failure to make it to biggest footballing showpiece of them all.

Africa still crying for freedom?

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“Sub-Saharan Africa: Year of Regression”. That was the heading used by U.S.-based rights group Freedom House in its survey of political freedom in the world published this week.

Of course the Freedom House survey pointed to the coups in Guinea and Mauritania as well as the situation in Zimbabwe, whose elections were condemned by many countries and where the crisis shows no sign of lessening, but there were plenty of other names on the list too:

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