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If Malawi’s Joyce Banda were a man, she would have stolen the election and all would be fine now (Opinion)

It’s farcical to argue that because Hillary Clinton was busy with her career, she is to blame for her husband’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda addresses a past United Nations assembly. She appears to have come unstuck at the altar of Africa's misogynistic politics. (Photo/File/AFP)

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda addresses a past United Nations assembly. She appears to have come unstuck at the altar of Africa’s misogynistic politics. (Photo/File/AFP)

Just when I thought the Africa Girls’ Club was gaining momentum, Malawians spoil the party and, now, we are down to just two female presidents on the continent; Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Central African Republic’s Catherine Samba-Panza, the latter only serving as acting president.

For Banda, I’m sure that’s not even the worst part. She lost to her predecessor’s brother Peter Mutharika and that must sting.  A colleague joked that she brought this unto herself. Like many, he “blames” Banda for going against the norm. Any other incumbent would have rigged the vote or found a way to amend the constitution and, why not, even avoided the election altogether.

In other words, Malawi’s now ex-president should have borrowed from the book of leaders like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe or even better, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who knows something about getting the numbers to add up for them. With 20.2% of the vote, all Banda had to do was extend the election window for two or three days later, and she would have  had a landslide.

Personally I’m disappointed, not in Banda’s desire to keep things clean, but rather in Malawians who seem to have a short memory. Unless there’s something they know that we don’t, I don’t understand how anyone would pass up someone who voluntarily took a pay cut, auctioned off the presidential jet and a fleet of luxury cars, at a time when presidents elsewhere are spending billions of dollars on these and more ostentatious acquisitions.

I think her gender had something to do with it. Let’s face it, powerful women aren’t exactly embraced with open arms -and not just here in Africa. Australia’s former Prime Minister  Julia Gillard had a tough time during her tenure and, at times, it appeared like people were more interested in her status and the fact that she doesn’t have children than in her policies.

A lot more needed
How about former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? She may be married and about to become a grandmother but it’s not going to be a walk in the park come 2016, assuming she decides to run for office. Already, she’s been accused of enabling her husband’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky, seemingly suggesting that if she hadn’t been busy building her career, Bill wouldn’t have strayed! I don’t even want to get into that.

No doubt there has been tremendous progress with millions of girls across the world attending school and going on to become reputable lawyers, architects and surgeons. But a lot more needs to be done. Women don’t need to be reminded at every opportunity that at the end of the day, their place is in the home and not at the IMF or the G8 Summit.

I long for a time when a woman running for the highest office in her country will not be the day’s biggest headline because she is the only female candidate. The world would be so different and so much better if more women were running things.

Just imagine Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, Libya and yes, even Kenya and Uganda, with female presidents. I like to think that their governing style wouldn’t be so different from how they run their homes. I don’t know many women who don’t look out for their families, which is why I think we should give women a chance.


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