Malawi. In 2013, President Joyce Banda’s first year was in power. Banda, who was previously the country’s vice president, replaced Bingu wa Mutharika when he unexpectedly died in a heart attack in April the year before. Banda is the first woman to be elected president of Malawi and the second woman to run for office in Africa, after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Although the Constitution says it is the country’s vice president who will take over the job if the incumbent president dies, it was not entirely obvious that Banda could become president. The uncertainty was mainly due to the fact that Banda, who was excluded from the ruling party in 2010, was in conflict with the former president, and many believed instead that power would be inherited by the president’s brother, Peter Mutharika. But the constitution was followed and for the relatively short time that Banda was Malawi’s president she has clearly shown that she wants to lead the country in a different direction from that which was protested during Mutharika’s time in power.
Unlike the former president, who, during his eight years in power, was often described as an authoritarian and power-hungry person, the country’s new president has so far shown more cooperative sides. During the year, Banda, for example, reestablished contact with important partner countries in Africa, North America and Europe. But the president has also faced harsh criticism, including when the government in May decided to lower the value of the country’s currency kwacha by as much as 33%.
According to Countryaah, the devaluation was a way for the government to meet the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demands for comprehensive economic reform. The aim of the measure was to reduce the flow of imports and to facilitate exports to other countries by lowering the price of Malawian goods. The reform led to popular protests and strikes around the country.
In the spring, the former president’s brother, Peter Mutharika, was arrested, as well as a number of ministers and senior officials. They were suspected of planning to overthrow the government and prevent Banda from becoming president the year before. However, the men were released on bail but one of them, Goodall Gondwe, later resigned from his post of minister. Peter Mutharika, who was Foreign Minister in the previous government, was fired from his post when Banda came to power in 2012.
During the fall, it was discovered that large sums of money had disappeared from the country’s administration, and in September nine police were sentenced to 14 years in prison for embezzlement. In the same month, Paul Mphwiyo, Head of the Budget of the Ministry of Finance, was subjected to a murder attempt. In addition, several ministers were accused of involvement in the corruption scandal, which became so difficult to handle that Banda decided in October to dismiss the entire government. According to Transparency International, the corruption in Malawi is mainly due to the widespread poverty in the country which creates inequality between people, but the corruption is also linked to an inefficient and inadequately funded public sector as well as the strong networks that exist between powerful people.
In November, the World Bank, the EU and a number of European countries stopped their assistance to Malawi due to widespread corruption.