Malawian president Joyce Banda faces electoral humiliation – and possibly jail Critics say she was politically naive, failed to deal convincingly with Cashgate corruption scandal, and was too often absent Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, dubbed an ‘absent president’, was more popular abroad than in her own country. Photograph: Stringer/AFP/ Getty Images “I learned that leadership is about falling in love with the people and the people falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, with sacrifice and with the need to put the common good ahead of personal interests.” These were the words of Joyce Banda, the president of Malawi, at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa last December, prompting one politician to remark: “She stole the show.” Few who heard her inspiring tribute were likely to suspect that, six months later, Banda would be facing electoral humiliation, the end of her political career and potentially even jail. The results of Malawi’s drawn out and chaotic election could finally be released as soon as Friday. Even if they are delayed again by the country’s high court, it is widely believed that Peter Mutharika will be the winner while Banda, the second female head of state in Africa, will be the first to lose an election. What went wrong for the 64-year-old feted by the west as a champion of women’s rights and saviour of Malawian democracy? Partly, it seems, there were impossibly high expectations. Partly, also, there were deep economic troubles and corruption scandals, some of which she inherited and some that were of her own making.

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