1. Malawi activists to sue over lack of gender parity

    Esther Ogola

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Lazarus Chakwera
    Image caption: An aide to President Chakwera said he was open to dialogue

    Gender activists in Malawi are planning to sue the government over lack of gender balance in parastatal board appointments announced by President Lazarus Chakwera in September.

    The Women’s Manifesto Movement (WMM) said despite trying to engage the government to rethink the appointments, the parastatals had started working without the matter being resolved in violation of the country's constitution.

    They said they will challenge in court any decisions made by the parastatals.

    Malawi's constitution stipulates that not more than 60% of one gender shall be represented in public service appointments. The body says at least 10 parastatals have no female representation while others have not achieved the 60:40 balance.

    WMM said the government had come up with "poor excuses" to explain its position.

    Local newspaper The Nation has quoted the president's Press Secretary Brian Banda as saying that Mr Chakwera was fully committed to addressing the organisations' concerns and was open to dialogue on the matter.

  2. Malawian forward moves to Hull City

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    In football, Malawian-born forward Henri Kumwenda, has been signed by Hull City from Leeds.

    Kumwenda,18, has been on the books of Leeds for the past 11 years having moved to England from Malawi as a toddler.

    The young forward impressed as a Leeds Academy player and was often called to play for the team’s Under-23 side prompting the Malawi national team to consider giving him a call up.

    Leeds were yet to offer him a professional deal and he has now moved to sign his first professional contract with Hull.

    The young forward has tweeted about his move:

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  3. Nearly a dozen southern African MPs died from Covid-19

    Jose Tembe

    BBC News, Maputo

    Nearly a dozen MPs have died from Covid-19 in southern Africa, the head of the Southern African Development Community's parliamentary forum, Esperanca Bias, has said.

    The MPs were from Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, Ms Bias added.

    She offered her condolences to their families as she ended a session of the parliamentary forum in Mozambique's capital, Maputo.

  4. Heavy police presence at Malawi sexism protest

    The Malawi Women Movement has began its protest against gender imbalance in public appointments amid heavy police presence.

    The women say President Lazarus Chakwera has failed to meet the 60:40 ratio rule, which demands that no gender should have more than 60% representation in public appointments.

    President Chakwera has said he needs more time to achieve it.

    Malawi's Nation Newspaper has tweeted photos of police deployed in the streets:

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    A rights group has tweeted photos of the protests:

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  5. Malawi's president cuts Tanzania trip short

    Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and Tanzania's John Magufuli

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has returned a day earlier than planned from his state visit to Tanzania.

    It comes as rights activists in Malawi gear up for protests on Friday against gender imbalance in public appointments.

    The Women Manifesto Movement say President Chakwera has failed to meet the agreed 60:40 gender ratio in public appointments.

    In a speech marking his first 100 days in office on Monday, the president said he needed more time to meet that target.

    Mr Chawera was seen off by his host President John Magufuli on Thursday:

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  6. Malawi's leader Chakwera to visit Tanzania

    BBC World Service

    Malawi's President, Lazarus Chakwera, is due to arrive Tanzania on Wednesday for a two-day state visit.

    He will meet President John Magufuli who is taking a break from campaigning ahead of elections next month.

    But commentators point out that Mr Chakwera is the third head of state to visit Tanzania in less than a month as President Magalufi seeks to show he has strong diplomatic relations with his neighbours.

  7. Malawi president backtracks on one million jobs promise

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera
    Image caption: President Lazarus Chakwera was elected in a repeat election

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has backtracked on his campaign promise to create one million jobs, saying the government can only employ 200,000 people.

    President Chakwera said the government could not create jobs on its own and needed the private sector's help.

    He said every entrepreneur needed to employ more people.

    The president spoke during his 100 days scorecard event on Monday.

    The one million campaign promise was a major talking point for the Tonse Alliance that was elected in a repeat presidential poll.

    Critics have told local media that the alliance had no job creation plan and was just using it as a campaign strategy.

  8. Malawi leader marks 100 days in office

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera
    Image caption: President Lazarus Chakwera vowed to unite the country and fight poverty

    An event presenting an audit of the first 100 days in office of Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera is under way in the capital, Lilongwe.

    The secretary to the cabinet, Zangazanga Chikhosi, has outlined the initiatives approved by the cabinet to ease the cost of production for farmers.

    Vice-President Saulos Chilima said the new administration is in the process of reforming public service to ensure improved service delivery.

    President Chakwera is expected to address the nation during the event and highlight the policies his administration will undertake.

    He vowed to unite the country and fight poverty during his inauguration in June.

  9. Gandhi bust put up in Malawi despite previous protests

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Unveiling ceremony
    Image caption: Malawi's Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka called Gandhi an "icon"

    A bust of renowned Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi has been unveiled in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, two years after critics prevented a Gandhi statue from being erected in the southern city of Blantyre.

    The Indian high commission's original plans in 2018 met stiff resistance from some locals who formed the Gandhi Must Fall movement.

    They accused the Indian leader of having used racial slurs against black Africans and took the matter to court.

    This time, in Lilongwe, the intention to unveil the bust was not announced in advance and the Indian diplomats got around any possible objections by siting it within the grounds of their offices.

    Friday marks the birthday of Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1948 at the age of 78.

    The unveiling ceremony was attended by Malawi's Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka who praised Gandhi.

    "Mahatma Gandhi, who led India's freedom movement through non-violent struggle, is not only an icon for India but also a global icon that set the ball rolling for emancipation from the colonial struggle," he said.

    There's been no immediate reaction from the Gandhi Must Fall Movement.

  10. Malawi MPs reject condom donation

    Malawi parliament
    Image caption: The leader of majority said MPs can afford condoms

    Lawmakers in Malawi have rejected a donation of more than 200,000 condoms from the Aids Health Foundation.

    They were to be placed in toilets within parliament buildings.

    The leader of the majority, Richard Chimwendo, said members of parliament did not need such a donation as they can afford condoms.

    The donation was given to the chairperson of the wellness committee, Maggie Chinsinga.

    Mr Chimwendo said a report published by a local newspaper on the donation had injured the reputation of MPs.

    The report had quoted Ms Chinsinga as saying that parliament dispenses about 10,000 condoms every month and sometimes "runs out of stock," Malawi's Nation newspaper wrote.

    The Deputy Speaker, Madaliotso Kazombo, said that was not true and demanded an apology.

  11. Leaders must respect rule of law - Malawi's Chakwera

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera is on a visit to Zambia and journalists there have been trying to pin him down on his views about politics in the region.

    They asked him about the reported deterioration of human rights in Zimbabwe, and his response was a call for the respect of divergent views.

    "At this particular stage, I may have nothing much to say. I do have an outstanding meeting with President [Emmerson] Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe," he said.

    "We must respect the rule of law, we must respect human rights, we must respect respect contrary views everywhere," he added.

    "This is what makes us advance as democracies. And so, in as much as I cannot address specific issues, these are principles that we want to live by everywhere, particularly here in Africa as one people."

    President Chakwera was elected in May after the Constitutional Court nullified the results of an earlier election that had declared Peter Mutharika as winner.

  12. Malawi's former minister denied bail in theft charge

    A former Malawian information minister has been denied bail after being charged with theft and abuse of office.

    Henry Mussa and a former director at the ministry, Gideon Munthali, were arrested over the weekend and taken to court on Monday in the capital, Lilongwe.

    They were charged with the theft of 10 computers and three power generators during their tenure at the ministry last year. The computers and generators were meant for the Malawi News Agency.

    They both denied any wrongdoing.

    Magistrate Viva Nyimba denied the two suspects bail after the state argued that they would jeopardise investigations.

    Police were given one more week to conclude investigations and arraign the suspects in court on 21 September.

    Photos of the two appearing in court were shared by Zodiak Online:

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    Police said they recovered one of the 10 stolen computers at Mr Munthali's house and one of the three generators at Mr Mussa's house, according to a report published by the Voice of America.

  13. Malawi's president says poverty is due to misrule

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Lazarus Chakwera
    Image caption: Lazarus Chakwera was elected as Malawi's president in June

    Malawi's president has said that his country's poverty is due to the misrule of his predecessors.

    “The poverty of our people is man-made, which means it can and must be unmade,” Lazarus Chakwera said in his first state of the nation address since being elected in June.

    He promised to end corruption by making the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) fully independent and resourced to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

    He also promised to regularly attend parliament to respond to questions and to unify the country and to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission through a newly created Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity.

    There’s been mixed reaction to his address, with most supporters saying it gives hope for a bright future while critics say the address failed to inspire.

    The leader of opposition in parliament will give his formal response to the president’s address on Monday.

  14. Nearly half of all girls in Malawi are married before turning 18

    Video content

    Video caption: Almost ten per cent get married before their 15th birthday, according to Unicef.

    Almost ten per cent get married before their 15th birthday, according to Unicef.

  15. Malawi leader reinstates sacked army chief

    President Lazarus Chakwera

    Malawi's new President Lazarus Chakwera has reappointed the country's army commander sacked by his predecessor after troops protected protesters contesting elections marred by fraud.

    Mr Chakwera said the appointment of General Vincent Nundwe as commander of Malawi Defence Force took effect immediately.

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    Violent protests rocked the southern African nation in May last year following the controversial re-election of Peter Mutharika.

    The election was later annulled by a panel of five top judges because of irregularities and a re-run ordered within five months. Mr Chakwera won the fresh elections.

    Gen Nundwe at the time told a news conference that the army had a role to maintain constitutional order.

    The president on Tuesday said the general's sacking was "without justification".

    "My purpose is to heal the injury and injustice of an unfair decision inflicted on our entire military as a professional institution," he said at a media address.

    The fate of Gen Nundwe's then successor, Gen Peter Namathanga, is still unclear, but local media quote the president as saying that he will soon convene the defence council to discuss the appointment of a new deputy commander.

  16. Malawi activists want MPs to use their vernacular

    A civil society group in Malawi wants MPs to be allowed to debate in their vernacular in parliament.

    The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) says the legislators would better express themselves in vernacular than in English.

    The centre director Sylvester Namiwa said the people would also understand the debates better if they were in their language.

    "We have noted with concern on how some MPs are struggling to express themselves in English, and yet the same people were trusted by their constituents to represent them in the national assembly," Mr Namiwa was quoted as saying by Malawi 24 website.

    The Malawi constitution requires one to be able to speak fluent English to qualify to run for MP.

  17. Malawi police ordered to compensate rape survivors

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Malawi police (archive shot)

    The Malawi High Court on Thursday ordered the police force to financially compensate 18 women and girls who were raped and assaulted by officers in the small town of Nsundwe on the outskirts of the capital Lilongwe.

    The Women Lawyers Association (WLA) instituted court action after the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said it had established that police officers raped 13 women and one girl, and sexually assaulted three other girls under the age of 18 years during an operation in October.

    The police operation took place when former President Peter Mutharika was still in office, and followed the killing of a police officer by anti-government protesters.

    The police are thought to have gone to the area to avenge the death of a colleague.

    In his ruling, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered that the women and girls be compensated for all the pain and trauma they had suffered.

    An assessment of how much they should receive should be done within 21 days by the Registrar of the High Court.

    WLA president Tadala Chimkwezule said they were forced to take legal action because "the police had clearly abdicated its responsibility and constitutional duty".

  18. Backlash against Malawi's new Covid-19 restrictions

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Parishioners at St Don Bosco Catholic Parish in Lilongwe on March 22, 2020.
    Image caption: Places of worship have been closed, mask-wearing will be enforced with fines, and bar-goers cannot drink on the premises

    New Covid-19 measures announced in Malawi over the weekend have met with a backlash, with at least one civil society organisation threatening to take the government to court.

    In the new restrictions, public gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned, except for funerals which can have up to 50 people in attendance.

    Wearing of face masks is mandatory in all public spaces and offenders could be fined up to $13 (£10). Places of worship have been closed. Bars can operate for six hours a day, between 14:00 to 20:00 local time, but only sell takeaways.

    The new measures were prompted by a recent increase in coronavirus cases in the country, the ministry of health said.

    Similar measures announced by the previous administration of President Peter Mutharika - which also included a 21-day lockdown - were blocked by a court pending determination. No verdict has been made on the matter.

    Church leaders have voiced concern over the new government restrictions on public gatherings. The influential Catholic Church said it was never consulted.

    A local civil society organisation, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), has said it will take the government to court for ignoring the court order.

    Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda has since issued a statement promising to engage religious leaders "in further consultation".

    More than 4,600 Malawians have tested positive for Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and at least 146 have died.

  19. Malawi closes bars and churches as coronavirus cases rise

    Child wears masks in front of woman wearing mask
    Image caption: It is now mandatory to wear face masks in public Malawi

    The authorities in Malawi have ordered bars and churches to close.

    This comes after the number of corona virus cases doubled over the past month. There have so far been 4,624 cases of the virus in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    Malawi's attorney general said special enforcement officers had been hired to ensure people stuck to the new guidelines.

    These include a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and the mandatory wearing of face masks.

    Correspondents say the country appeared to almost ignore the threat of the virus for months as it focused on the re-run of a presidential election which the opposition's Lazarus Chakwera won in June.

    In April the courts stopped the government from imposing a lock-down due to concern that it would hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.