President Joyce Banda on Wednesday flew out to Abuja, Nigeria in a Nigerian Airforce plane. She will give a keynote address at the Seventh Summit of the African First Ladies Peace Mission on Thursday.

Banda, who is expected to return home next Wednesday, will pass through South Africa where she is scheduled to meet President Jacob Zuma.

The President left Chileka Airport in Blantyre at 10.30am and was seen off by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, several Cabinet ministers and People’s Party (PP) senior members, among others.

“I will speak on Thursday on the roles and expectation African first ladies can play in fostering peace in Africa,” Banda said in a brief interview.

She observed that in the past, African first ladies were sidelined. “But as a woman, I recognise the important role they can play in development and in bringing peace in Africa.”

On why she flew on the Nigerian Airforce plane, Banda said Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan extended the goodwill after noting concerns about the economic hardship Malawi has gone through in the recent past.

In April this year, soon after ascending to the presidency, Banda flew to South Africa where she discussed economic problems in Malawi and the loan South Africa gave the country to buy fuel.

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