|Birth Day:||April 12, 1950|
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She was sworn in as president after the death of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika, and despite the best effort of the former president's close associates to install his brother at the top.
Joyce Hilda Ntila was born on 12 April 1950 in Malemia, a village in the Zomba District of Nyasaland (now Malawi). Her father was a police brass band musician. She began her career as a secretary and became a well-known figure during the rule of dictator Hastings Banda (no relation).
In 1975, a growing women's movement in Kenya motivated Banda to take her three children and leave what she has described as an abusive marriage. Her marriage to Roy Kachele ended in 1981. She is now married to Richard Banda, retired Chief Justice of Malawi, with whom she has two children.
Between 1985 and 1997 Banda managed and established various businesses and organisations including Ndekani Garments (1985), Akajuwe Enterprises (1992), and Kalingidza Bakery (1995). Her success inspired her to help other women achieve financial independence and break the cycles of abuse and poverty.
Banda is the founder of the National Association of Business Women in Malawi that was established in 1990. It is a registered non-profit foundation in Malawi. The association aims to lift women out of poverty by strengthening their capacity and empowering them economically. This is a social network of 30,000 women, dedicated to supporting women's businesses and supporting women who want to participate in business. Its activities include business training, technical training, record keeping and management skills. They work towards creating dialogue with policymakers to make policies favourable to women business owners. Its current director is Mary Malunga. The foundation has had a partnership with the Netherlands-based Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (Hivos) at The Hague since 2003.
Joyce Banda entered politics in 1999. She won a parliamentary seat in Malawi's third democratic election as a member of President Bakili Muluzi's party, the United Democratic Front. She represented the Zomba Malosa constituency. Muluzi appointed her as Minister for Gender and Community Services. As minister, she fought to enact the Domestic Violence Bill, which had failed for seven years. She designed the National Platform for Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse.
In 2004, she was re-elected as a member of Muluzi's Party. Bingu wa Mutharika became President. Even though Banda was not a member of his party, Mutharika appointed her as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006. Banda moved to change Malawi's recognition of the legitimate government of China from the Republic of China (on Taiwan) to the People's Republic of China on the mainland; she claimed the switch would bring economic benefits to Malawi. In 2010, China finished the construction of a new parliament building in Lilongwe.
Banda has been involved with many grassroots projects with women since the age of 25 to bring about policy change, particularly in education. She founded the Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Education. She founded the Young Women Leaders Network, National Association of Business Women and the Hunger Project in Malawi. She (jointly with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique) was awarded the 1997 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger by the Hunger Project, a New York-based non-governmental organisation. She used the prize money to fund the building of the Joyce Banda foundation for children. In 2006, she received the International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women for her dedication to the rights of the women of Malawi by the Americans for United Nations Population Fund.
Banda ran as the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2009 presidential election, running alongside Mutharika, the DPP presidential candidate. She served as Malawi's first female vice-president. In a surprise move by the DPP, Joyce Banda and second vice-president Khumbo Kachali were fired as the vice-presidents of the DPP on 12 December 2010 for undefined 'anti-party' activities. In attempts to ostracise her, the President continued to give roles that were previously held by her to Callista Mutharika, who was included in the cabinet in September 2011. The court blocked attempts by Mutharika to fire her as Vice-President on constitutional grounds. This included attempts to seize her official government vehicle and to block her from registering her new party. On 8 September 2011, the role of Vice-President was left out in a cabinet reshuffle. However, she was still the legal Vice-President because the post was mandated by the constitution. She was urged by DPP spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba to resign as Vice-President.
After the flag was changed in 2010 by the Mutharika government, there was public opposition. Many groups challenged the legitimacy of the flag. On 28 May 2012, Banda led the nation's MPs to vote to revert the flag back to its independence flag, which was originally adopted in 1964. All parties, except the DPP, voted in favour of reverting to the independence flag.
In 2010, Banda became a member of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity. Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders seek to mobilise the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Joyce Banda is the founder and leader of the People's Party, formed in 2011 after Banda was expelled from the ruling DPP when she refused to endorse President Mutharika's younger brother Peter Mutharika as the successor to the presidency for the 2014 general election.
On 5 April 2012, President Mutharika died. After his death the government failed to notify the public in a timely manner that the president had died. This led to the fear of a constitutional crisis in Malawi.
Joyce Banda was sworn in on 7 April 2012 as President of Malawi, the first woman to hold the office. Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo presided over the ceremony which was held at the National Assembly in Lilongwe. After she was sworn in, Banda appealed for national unity. "I want all of us to move into the future with hope and with the spirit of oneness and unity... I hope we shall stand united and I hope that as a God-fearing nation we allow God to come before us, because if we don't do that then we have failed."
On 26 April 2012, President Banda chose her cabinet, composed of 23 ministers and nine deputy ministers. She gave herself several key portfolios to strengthen her own power as the country's leader.
During Mutharika's presidency, Malawi was left in a poor economic situation due to foreign relations under the Mutharika administration. Within the last year of Mutharika's presidency, Britain, the United States, Germany, Norway, the European Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank had all suspended financial aid. They had expressed concern about Mutharika's attacks on democracy domestically and his increasingly erratic policies. In March 2012, Mutharika told these foreign donors to "go to hell." He accused them of plotting to bring down his government. Part of Banda's challenge as president was to restore diplomatic ties with the aid donors. She also had the challenge of restoring diplomatic ties with Malawi's neighbours like Mozambique, and regional countries such as Botswana.
Within the first week of her presidency, Banda launched a diplomatic offensive to repair Malawi's international relations. She spoke to Henry Bellingham of the United Kingdom's Foreign Office. He assured her that a new British envoy will be sent "within the shortest time possible." She spoke to the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton promised to resume discussions on the $350 million energy grant as soon as possible. Banda announced plans to speak to Baroness Ashton of the European Union's Foreign Affairs office and the Malawi's IMF Resident Representative, Ruby Randall. She and Zambian president Michael Sata had also conferred about resuming close working relations. At least partly to further please donors, Banda's administration also refused in June 2012 to host that July's African Union summit on the grounds that the AU had insisted that Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir be given assurances that Malawi would refuse to serve the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him; the Cabinet decided that such conditions were unacceptable. President Banda is named by Forbes as the 40th most powerful woman in the world, the highest African name on the list.
On 18 May 2012, Banda announced her intention to overturn Malawi's ban on homosexuality. The measure was reported to already have the support of a majority of MPs. If successful, it would make Malawi the second African nation to legalise same-sex sexual activity since 1994. Amnesty International reported in early November 2012 that Malawi had "suspended" laws criminalising homosexuality pending a vote.
On the advice of the International Monetary Fund, in May 2012 Banda devalued the Malawian kwacha, something Mutharika had refused to do. The announcement of the kwacha's devaluation by 33 per cent against the United States dollar, an attempt to attract donor funding, prompted "panic-buying" in Malawian cities, the BBC News reported.
As part of a government move on austerity measures in October 2012, Banda cut her salary by 30%. She also announced that the presidential jet would be sold.
She has a Cambridge School Certificate, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus University (an unaccredited distance education institution), a Bachelor of Social Studies in Gender Studies from Atlantic International University (also a distance learning institution) and a Diploma in Management of NGOs from the International Labour Organization (ILO) Centre in Turin, Italy. Currently, she is studying for a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership at Royal Roads University in Canada. She received an honorary doctorate in 2013 from Jeonju University.
On 10 October 2013, a few days after returning from a trip to the UN, President Joyce Banda sacked her cabinet following the Capital Hill Cashgate scandal. On 15 October, a new cabinet was appointed, and notably Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara were dropped from the cabinet.
Upon becoming President, Banda decided to sell her presidential jet and make a contribution of 30% of her salary to benefit the Malawi Council for the Handicapped. However, proceeds from the sale of the jet were not accounted for. An explanation given by Joyce Banda was that the jet had been sold to an arms company in South Africa with whom the Government of Malawi had an outstanding debt and so the jet was used to offset this debt. No paperwork or evidence was made available to back up that claim. On 17 January 2013, thousands of Malawians protested in Blantyre against rising inflation after Banda, joined by IMF chief Christine Lagarde, defended the devaluation of the kwacha and said she would not reverse the decision.
The relationship between Banda and President Bingu wa Mutharika had become increasingly tense because of Mutharika's attempts to position his own brother, Peter Mutharika, as his successor. Although she was fired from the position as Vice-President of the DPP together with Second Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, she continued to serve as Vice-President of Malawi as stipulated in the constitution. This move led to mass resignations in the DPP and the formation of networks that supported her candidacy to become President of Malawi in the 2014 general election. The DPP denied that mass resignations had occurred and insisted that they were only a few.
In May 2014 Joyce Banda was heavily defeated in the presidential election. She failed in an attempt to nullify the election. She did not attend the swearing in of the winner, Peter Mutharika, but offered him her congratulations. She lived outside Malawi beginning in 2014. A warrant for her arrest in connection with alleged corruption during her stint as President was announced on 31 July 2017, although she remained outside the country. She denied the charges and said that she would return to face them.
Currently, Joyce Banda is 71 years, 3 months and 17 days old. Joyce Banda will celebrate 72nd birthday on a Tuesday 12th of April 2022.
Find out about Joyce Banda birthday activities in timeline view here.