US Govt Denies Joyce Banda Visa, Faces Coup D’état In PP
Self-exiled former president Joyce Banda currently finds herself between a rock and a hard place following United States (US) government’s refusal to grant her another six months visiting visa to USA after her legal stay there expires on 25th March 2017.
Joyce Banda must also make a difficult decision to return to Malawi and take control of her struggling People’s Party (PP) or face an imminent chop as its president when the party holds a national convention in August this year in her absence.
Highly placed US embassy officials in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Joyce Banda applies for her visa told this publication US authorities have failed to establish genuine reasons for her continued stay in Washington, especially in the light of growing allegations of her personal involvement in the plunder of government money when she was Malawi’s leader from 2012 to 2014.
According to the sources, her new visa application follows Banda’s completion of a study visit in US where she was doing research at Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington. According to US laws, a researcher cannot continue to live in that country after finishing his or her study tour.
Joyce Banda is currently in South Africa on holiday and where she also applied for a US visitor to extend her stay after finally completes her said research. She lives in suburb Four Ways location in a plush mansion believed to have been acquired with cashgate money. The mansion is subject of an on-going Anti-corruption bureau investigation.
To make matters worse for the embattled former president, she may not also find South Africa a safe haven as she is also at loggerheads with that country’s president Jacob Zuma over an unpaid US$15 million loan that her government got from the South African government to host the failed 19th African Union (AU) Summit in Lilongwe in July 2012.
Joyce Banda had asked the AU not to invite Sudanese president Hassan Al-Bashir to the summit, explaining that her country’s previous hosting of the Sudanese leader has had implications on the economy. Al-Bashir is wanted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague for charges bordering on crimes against humanity. She had warned Al-Bashir that he would be arrested should he step a foot on Malawi soil. The summit was later shifted to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Government sources in Pretoria have revealed that that said loan was informally acquired and that she had promised to pay back when she gets re-elected in 2014 which never happened.
Joyce Banda lost miserable and came a distant third after incumbent president Arthur Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Dr. Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress party (MCP).
Meanwhile, PP acting president Uladi Mussa has told Joyce Banda to forget about remote-controlling the party anymore and that PP ‘remnants’ at home will mobilize themselves and organize a national convention as per the party’s constitution.
The party’s constitution prescribes that a national convention must take place two years before national elections. Malawi’s next general elections shall be held in 2019.
Mussa told the local Zodiak broadcasting station in an interview that with or without Joyce Banda, the party would go ahead to elect new office-bearers, including president of the party.
Meanwhile, Joyce Banda flies today back to US from South Africa and it remains unknown what her next course of action would be after her visa expires in March.