On 5 April 2012, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika died after suffering a heart attack at his home in the capital city, Lilongwe. Mutharika had been president since May 2004. Two days after his death, Joyce Hilda Banda, former vice president under Mutharika, was sworn in as president of the country.
Banda’s appointment has caused some tension in political circles as she was expelled from Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2010 when the former president refused to endorse her as his successor in the upcoming 2014 elections, opting for his brother Peter Mutharika instead. Following her expulsion, Banda formed her own party, the People’s Party, and continued to serve as Vice President of the state.
The DPP now remains somewhat divided on the issue. On the one hand, at least 20 members of the party, collectively known as the Hope Alliance group, who for years had been dissatisfied with Mutharika’s leadership, have come out in support of Banda. On the other hand, the DPP swore in Peter Mutharika this weekend as the party’s president and thus the true successor of the former president.
Malawi’s constitution stipulates that the vice president must take office should the president die however, and so Banda’s appointment is both democratic and legal. Moreover, her appointment has received support from Malawi’s army in addition to a variety of opposition parties in the country. These supporters have called for a constitutional order to keep the peace in the country.
With support from members of the DPP itself, the military and opposition parties, it is unlikely that Banda’s presidency will be contested much despite some political tension. The outlook for Malawi thus remains stable and peaceful.
Banda was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice President from 2009 to 2012. She is heavily involved in promoting human rights of women and children as she is the founder of numerous organizations including: The Joyce Banda Foundation, The National Association of Business Women, the Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project. Banda has won numerous awards both locally and internationally recognizing her developmental efforts in Africa.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) stole headlines this past week as the secessionist group once again threatened to attack South African investments in the country. Such threats were first made in February 2012. MEND claims that it will attack all such investments, including those of MTN, because of the current terror trial of its leader, Henry Okah, in Johannesburg.
Okah is on trial in South Africa for his involvement in the terrorist attacks in Abuja, Nigeria during the country’s Independence Day Celebrations on 1 October 2010. 12 people were killed in twin car bombings that day.
Because Okah maintains that he is innocent, MEND has released a statement declaring that “what is happening in South Africa is a travesty of justice which must be condemned by all.” The group has also claimed that President Zuma of South Africa has become a trusted crony of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and in doing so has detained Okah unjustly.
Regarding attacks on MTN, MEND has declared that it will commence attacks on the telecom group’s infrastructure in the Niger Delta. These acts of sabotage will follow pre-attack warnings, however where the group has declared that it will issue a set of guidelines for MTN employees, customers and owners of properties to inimize civilian casualties. MTN has consequently called on security agencies to prevent MEND from carrying out its threats and is currently working with the federal government.
Other South Africa companies present in Nigeria include the following:
- South African Airways
- Stanbic Africa
- Securicor Gray
- The Industrial Development Corporation
- Rand Merchant Bank
- Protea Hotels