Malawi Vice President Asks Her Boss to Explain War Threats

Banda (left) dances with other women during the runner-up to the 2004 polls

Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda has asked President Bingu wa Mutharika to explain to the masses what he meant when he said last week that he is ready for war. Addressing thousands of her supporters in Blantyre’s most populous township, Banda challenged her boss to elaborate what he meant. “I say this without fear or contradiction…war is not a joking matter, war ravaged countries provide us with evidence of what fighting is capable of doing to poor citizens,” said Banda. Banda was expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) early this year and went on to form her own political party antagonizing herself further with her boss. She still remains President Mutharika’s deputy as he has no constitutional powers to sack her except for parliament where he would need to garner a two-thirds majority to have her removed. President Mutharika has come under fire for his war remarks which civil society groups feared may affect the UN facilitated mediation process which started last week. “If you don’t want dialogue, tell me any day we can go to war, if that’s what you want,” President Mutharika warned civil society groups who want him to explain his wealth, restore diplomatic relations with Britain, trim his bloated cabinet and sale the $15 million private jet he bought amidst rising food prices. The groups warn that they will organize more demonstrations on September 21 if he fails to respond to their petition. Mutharika has since dissolved his 42 member cabinet and taken over all portfolios weeks after deadly anti-government riots left 19 protesters dead. But it’s over a week since he sacked his cabinet and no one knows whether he will trim it as demanded by the groups.