Joyce Banda with UK premier David CameronPolitics of vengeance is what is dragging us behind.

One of the reasons why African leaders cling to power is because they do not have an ‘after life’. Once they leave office – either courtesy of retirement or after losing an election – they are not only forgotten but are derided, oftentimes dragged through courts over funny imaginary charges.

The African Union, the Commonwealth and, indeed, the UN have activities for ex-leaders which Malawi does not take advantage of because we treat our retired leaders as foes.

Look, there was this embarrassing moment when former president Bakili Muluzi was invited to the AU 50th anniversary events but the Bingu wa Mutharika administration sat on it. Muluzi only learnt that he was supposed to be in Addis Ababa after the former president of Mozambique, Joachim Chissano, casually remarked the two would meet at the continental Golden Jubilee over the phone.

After inquiries Muluzi learnt that there was indeed an invite for him but it was then too late for him to secure proper accommodation in Addis!

Ex-leaders of other countries are daily being used in some useful roles. There is the Committee of the Wise at the AU which is used to intervene in flash point areas on the continent.

There is also the President Mbeki Panel on Illicit Financial Flows and the President Obasanjo Commission on Alternative Financing of the AU.

Our own Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda could have had roles at international fora if we learnt to respect our ex-leaders. (It is heartening to note that the Commonwealth has been using Muluzi in Swaziland and Lesotho. But these roles for former presidents should have been championed by government).

After all, in ten years – possibly even less – President Mutharika will be an ex-leader. Do his apologists want him humiliated as well?

By picking needless fights with her, we are just creating sympathy around Joyce Banda and unwittingly creating a halo of importance around her head. It may be easy to conclude that somebody somewhere is spending sleepless nights at the mere mention of her name.

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