By Banthu Times Reporter 29/11/2013

President Joyce Banda says Malawians are still committed to the tenets of democracy despite experiencing poor political and economic governance due to attempts by previous regimes to take Malawi back to an authoritarian state.

President Banda was speaking in Nigeria where she delivered a keynote address titled “Genuine Democracy: the Price and the Prize – leadership and the challenge of delivering appropriate dividends of democracy to the citizens” at the 14th session of the Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe lecture series.
The Malawi leader told the audience that during previous regimes Malawians were harassed, intimidated police and other security forces operated with impunity while the media and civil society were prevented from exercising their rights and enjoying their freedoms.

“Despite these setbacks, Malawians remained committed to democracy. In many instances, they have pushed back against attempts to curtail their freedoms, and undermine the principles and ideals of our constitution. For example, during the 2012 constitutional crisis, after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, the people of Malawi chose Constitutional democracy,” said President Banda.

Banda also noted that it is her duty to ensure that Malawians reap benefits of democracy though there is a challenge of lack of capacity and financing which has led to many countries relying on donors, something her administration plans to change.

“My plan for Malawi is to reduce our budget dependent on donor support from the current 40 per cent to 5 percent in ten years,” said the president.
“We must move away from a situation where governments are more accountable to donors than to their own people,” continued the Malawi leader.
President Banda who is also chairperson of SADC and has also been commended the world over for her strong fight against corruption advised leader who are facing similar challenges at home to put the fight against corruption ahead of their political career.

“The spirit of serving and putting people first has always pushed me to take bold, risky and unpopular decisions and steps, regardless of consequences, knowing very well their risk to my political career as long as I am convinced that they are in the best interest of Malawians”
“In my opinion, the ability to put the people first on such critical issues is the true measure of leadership,” said the Malawi leader.

Meanwhile president Banda is expected to arrive back home today.