Columnists Features

Andyford: New generation leader


HIS youthful face will be one of the nine portraits of presidential candidates on the ballot paper in the August 11 general elections.
And yes, at 35, Andyford Banda is the youngest candidate in the presidential race, although he does not fancy being classified as such. He prefers calling himself “a new generation leader.”
But only six months ago, this presidential hopeful would have been deemed too young to stand for president, as the Zambian constitution stipulates that a person vying for the president must be 35 years old or above.
On June 3, Mr Banda filed his presidential nomination, although his bid to enter the race was frustrated by his preferred running mate who decided to back out a few days before nomination day, too scared to face the political consequences of an election.
Seemingly unmoved and undeterred by the embarrassing hitch, Mr Banda walked out of the nomination centre and came back some hours later with a new running mate, Enoch Tonga, and the two managed a last-minute entry into the race.
But who is Andyford Banda?
Andyford Mayele Banda was born on February 19, 1981 in Lusaka’s Chawama Township. His father, Geoffrey Banda, was a chef for one of the top hotels in Lusaka – not that that meant a luxurious life for the family. His mother, Josphine Makombe, was a stay-at-home-mum who supplemented the family’s income by selling second-hand clothes or any this-and-that.
Mr Banda is the seventh, in a family of nine.
He talks of the struggles his parents went through in providing for the big family, buy says his family’s fortunes did improve later when his father got a job at Zesco Limited.
His father, who is now deceased, was a Jehovah’s Witness and disciplinarian who emphasised the importance of education, and usually spent the family’s income to send his children to school.
“My father sacrificed a lot because he wanted the best for all of us,” he says.
When he was a little boy, Mr Banda dreamed of becoming a businessman.
“I remember when my father asked me when I was a little boy what I wanted to become when I grew up, I told him that I wanted to become a businessman,” he says, seated at the edge of a soafer at his home in Woodlands.
But when he was 18 years old, Andyford Banda began dreaming that one day he would become President.
Mr Banda attended various primary and secondary schools and later studied accounts at the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountant. Shortly after graduation, he had a brief stint at the power utility, Zesco.
But the young man was never really the kind to keep a job; his mind was always set on becoming an entrepreneur.
After working for Celpay Zambia and Celpay DRC for four years, Mr Banda resigned and got a job as chief accountant for Associated Printers.
At Amaguard Security, which was his last stop in formal employment, Mr Banda’s contract was terminated after bashing the company vehicle, and he vowed he would not work in the formal sector again.
“My decision not to [be in formal employment] was motivated by two things – to be an entrepreneur and to become a leader,” he says.
He is passionate about mobile banking and his vision is to have people in villages accessing the service.
Late last year, Mr Banda decided to follow his political dream by registering a party called People’s Alliance for Change (PAC).
He says he is not in politics for selfish ambitions.
“For me, I’m not doing this because I want to gain anything in politics, but I believe that I was called to be where I’m today. Everything that is happening in my life is the manifestation of the imagination that I have had,” he says.
“I’m not greedy, so I can take care of the affairs of this country properly,” he says.
His inspiration in politics is Levy Mwanawasa, who died in office as Zambia’s third President, and the former Minister of Finance Ng’andu Magande. He says the two leaders were selfless and put the interest of the country first.
On the global scene, Mr Banda draws inspiration from Nelson Mandela and US president Barack Obama.
He insists he has no big financier backing his political aspirations, just his own little resources and the goodwill of his supporters. Mr Banda also refuses to back the bigger parties.
As a young man, wouldn’t he become easily excited by the trappings of power if he become President?
“People like KK [first President Kenneth Kaunda], was President when he was 40 and he handled it; there is no difference between 40 and 35, it is the same age group. In fact if it wasn’t for the resistance of the colonial masters, he [Dr Kaunda] could have been president at 35,” says Mr Banda.
And he has a lot of other examples of men who made great leaders in their 30s.
The PAC has not fielded any parliamentary candidates or councilors for the August polls because “the system is rigged. It only favours people who have money.”
Mr Banda says most of the people who wanted to stand on the party’s ticket could not raise the nomination fees required by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
He, however, says the requirement by the ECZ that each presidential candidate must raise 1,000 supporters – 100 in each province – was a litmus test for his party’s popularity.
Is he going into the race as an underdog?
“I know that in the eyes of the people I’m, but in my own eyes I’m not,” he says.
“I believe we have a very good chance of winning this election,” he says, although as a self-confessed realist, he does admit the PAC is a small party.
And if he loses, “Then God never meant it to be; I will continue with my business.”
So how will he run government without his own MPs?
“We will work with progressive MPs once we form government,” he says.
His vision is a country where citizens will jointly own businesses, especially those that do not offer specialised services.
“I want to see a country where every Zambian has equal opportunity to do something,” he says.
Mr Banda declared assets worth K890,000, but he says his biggest asset is his mind.
He thinks he could have been richer if it wasn’t for the sacrifices he has made in running for political office.
He quotes the Bible a lot, but he says he is not very religious and does not belong to any particular Christian denomination.
And it seems his favourite scripture for now is Ecclesiastes 9v11:
“…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
This presidential hopeful is a Manchester United fan, but for now, his mind is focused only on one thing – politics and his dream of becoming President.
Mr Banda recently divorced with his wife of seven years. He has two children, Mapalo and Mayele.
But he has not given up on marriage and he is currently in a “serious relationship”. He plans to tie the knot after August 11. No doubt he dreams of saying the nuptials on the lawns of State House.

Facebook Feed