There are a couple of similarities between Joyce Banda and Goodluck Jonathan. Both were vice presidents of their respective countries, and both became president despite some opposition from those who wanted to subvert the constitution.
The similarities end there, however. In less than two months in office, Joyce Banda has begun clearing out the loyalists of the late president Mutharika and followed IMF advice to devalue he country’s currency by a third, but is now making headlines by deciding to sell the jet bought by Mutharika in 2009, as well sixty Mercedes limousines. Malawi’s president will fly commercial from now on.
Now, Africans know how their leaders love their jets and their cars, and it makes what Joyce Banda is doing a rare occurrence, but it also makes perfect sense. She has put in place tough reforms, and is merely taking the same medicine she gives her people in order to win their support. It remains to be seen if she will continue in this direction, but Joyce Banda is making the best possible use of the ‘honeymoon period’ all politicians enjoy.
Her Nigerian counterpart, Goodluck Jonathan, has frittered away his honeymoon period, to the extent that one year of his presidency feels like three years. Instead of leading by example, preachments and platitudes are the order of the day from Aso Rock. Every day, patience wears thinner.
Here’s hoping that Malawi’s first female president builds on her good start early on. This continent needs all the good leaders it can get.