Southern Africa Gets First Female Leader Joyce Banda is Malawi's new president By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Apr 7, 2012 11:44 AM CDT 4 comments Comments Joyce Banda in a 2009 file photo. She is the new leader of Malawi. (Getty Images) (Newser) – A milestone for southern Africa today, by way of Malawi: Joyce Banda was sworn in as president to become the first female leader in the region, reports the BBC. Banda takes over from Bingu wa Mutharika, who died of a heart attack on Thursday but whose death was confirmed by the government only today. Why the delay? The AP and BBC suspect a power struggle over who would succeed him. Banda had been his vice president since 2009, but the two had become fierce political enemies. She apparently won out over the late president's brother, the foreign affairs minister. Banda will serve out Mutharika's term, which ends in 2014.