In what is a stinging slap in the face of representatives of other countries in Malawi, President Joyce Banda on Saturday said foreign missions in the countryâ€”except the Japanese ambassadorâ€”shunned her during the period government isolated her when she was Vice-President.
Banda, speaking in the old capital, Zomba at the official handover of Msigalira Free Secondary School by the Japanese Embassy to Joyce Banda Foundation International, said Japanese ambassador Fujio Samukawa stood by her during the difficult times.
Soon after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, foreign missions in Malawi were quick to court Banda at her residence in Lilongwe where they visited her when it was clear that state power was shifting to her.
Banda said Samukawa would visit her at her Area 12 official residence in Lilongwe when other ambassadors feared to associate with her.
Representatives of the diplomatic community were not available for their reaction to the Presidentâ€™s statement.
Banda said the school project started when she was Vice-President and when the Japanese did not know that she would be President.
The Japanese have constructed a hostel, two school blocks, a dining hall and other facilities at the school at her home in Malosa which enrols orphaned girls.
The President, who talked politics for the better part of her speech, told the gathering that MP for Zomba Malosa, Anderson Undani, needs everyoneâ€™s support.
She urged her Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) officials to welcome everyone in the party although some people castigated her when she was Vice-President.
She said she has accommodated 19 people in her Cabinet from the former governing party, DPP, who castigated her when the party was in power.
There have been reported divisions in Zomba Malosa Constituency as some PP followers want the Presidentâ€™s son, Roy Kachale-Banda, to run in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Said Banda: “The two days of transition [when former president Bingu wa Mutharika died] were dangerous. Anything could have happened. But it was Undani and other Cabinet ministers who said no. Some of these Cabinet ministers castigated me, but during this period, they said no.
“This is the time to heal the wounds. We must unite and habour no hatred. If you want hatred, do it elsewhere or join another party. If you love me, show it by receiving anyone into the party…I have never insulted Undani but he insulted me. Today, I am able to work with him.”
The President said she was worried that it was not clear who Traditional Authority (T/A) Malemia is and asked authorities to resolve the problems so that government can come in and start building a house for the proper T/A Malemia.
Kachale-Banda, who spoke just before her mother, said it he is concerned that Malosa is divided, but did not elaborate.
He also appealed to party officials to welcome anyone into PP. He said he agreed with Undani to work together, adding that what happens next, the future will tell.
Kachale-Banda also appealed to authorities resolve the longstanding problems surrounding the Malemia chieftaincy.
On his part, the Japanese ambassador said education is a the greatest investment for national economic vitality and improved quality of life.
Samukawa said better public education is an indispensable tool for boosting and sustaining economic growth and nation building.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Eunice Kazembe thanked the President for her personal interest in education.
President Banda held a mass rally later in the afternoon at Songani in the district where she repeated her call for unity and the need to forget the acrimony that existed in the area before she ascended to the high office.