Most of Banda’s critics, especially women from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have for often times dismissed her as more of a mandasi (fritter) trader that a leader.
“Actually, when they call me a mandasi woman, they are honouring me and I’m very proud of it. This is a clear testimony through their own mouths that I have reached out to so many women for the past decade. That is the same journey that has seen me becoming the most powerful woman in Africa,” President Banda said today in Nkhata-bay.
The sarcastic title which was coined by Mulanje West parliamentarian Patricia Kaliati, and rejuvenated recently by the former first lady Callista Mutharika, is highly connected to Joyce Banda grassroots economic empowerment initiatives.
Speaking recently at Pastors Voices Fraternal conference at Assemblies of God Church in Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre recently, Callista said that just because Joyce Banda once run an non-governmental organisation, Hunger Project, it doesn’t mean she’s capable of running a country.
“When [once] I said a Mandasi [fritter] seller, people thought it was just an insult or shabby talk. But [the thing is] I’ve known her from way back. Just because she once ran an NGO, it doesn’t mean she’s capable to run a country.”
Callista donated a sum of K220 000 to pastors’ wives to start up a revolving fund for small-scale businesses but warned them not to go into Mandasi businesses.
“Don’t start mandasi businesses, there’s no profit in them with the kwacha devaluation,” she advised.
Before Banda went into politics, her organisation National Association for Business Women, gave loans to women to start small businesses. Some went into mandasi (fritters) business and helped support their families.