Malawi

  1. Malawi Covid fund audit finds $4.7m missing

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Health officials wearing face masks in Blantyre, Malawi
    Image caption: This is the second audit into money set aside in Malawi to tackle coronavirus

    An audit into Covid spending in Malawi has found that around $4.7m (£3.7m) cannot be accounted for from $21m set aside to deal with the second phase of the pandemic.

    This is on top of $881m from the first phase that a 2020 audit showed had been spent irregularly or was not accounted for.

    After the first audit, President Lazarus Chakwera promised to crack down on the culprits and several officials were taken to court, though none of the cases have yet concluded.

    The latest investigation - a 66-page report by the country’s auditor general - lists the irregularities, which include undelivered medical supplies, allowances paid without attendance sheets and fuel acquired without official documentation.

    It has been presented to the minister of finance for action.

    Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say this second exposé shows that public systems for managing resources are broken, with no political will to hold people accountable.

    “We lost many countrymen and women because funds that could have been used to buy basic equipment and essential drugs were abused; sadly we do not have a leadership that is showing enough concern to change things,” said Sylvester Namiwa, who heads the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (CDEDI).

  2. Ex-Malawi president loses appeal over corruption case

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Bakili Muluzi
    Image caption: It paves the way for Bakili Muluzi to be tried in the High Court

    Former Malawi president, Bakili Muluzi, has lost an appeal which would have led to a corruption case he is facing being discontinued.

    The 79-year-old who served two five-year terms as president between 1994 and 2004 stands accused of diverting 1.7bn Malawi kwacha ($2.4m; £1.9m) of government money into his personal account during his tenure. He denies the charge.

    The case was first brought to court 14 years ago but multiple postponements and disagreements over technicalities have delayed its conclusion.

    Mr Muluzi had sought to have the case discontinued by the Supreme Court of Appeal, arguing the section of law used by the graft-busting body contradicted the country’s constitution and infringed on his rights as an accused person.

  3. Malawi gives 155-year jail terms for albino murder

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    A person with albinism in Malawi - archive shot
    Image caption: Many people with albinism in Malawi feel vulnerable because of the high risk of attack

    Three men in Malawi have been each sentenced by a High Court to 155 years in jail for killing a person with albinism.

    Aged 44, 45 and 71, they were found guilty after they confessed to the murder of a 23-year-old albino man in January this year.

    One of those sentenced was the man’s uncle.

    Over the past decade, Malawi has experienced gruesome attacks and killings of people with albinism, fuelled by false beliefs that concoctions mixed with their body parts bring luck and wealth.

    Since 2014, there have been more than 170 cases ranging from killings and grave-tampering to attempted abductions and physical violence.

    Earlier this month, a High Court ruled on another albino murder case, finding a former Roman Catholic priest, a police officer and a hospital clinician guilty of trading in body parts.

    The convictions were the first of prominent members of society linked to the attacks.

    That ruling and these long jail terms are a message from the justice system that such killings and violence will not be tolerated.

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  4. Malawi parliament moves to abolish death penalty

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Malawi parliament building
    Image caption: Tuesday's enquiries are being held at Parliament building

    Malawi's parliament has started public enquiries in the capital, Lilongwe, on a proposal to abolish the death penalty following last month’s adoption of a report recommending the move.

    It comes after parliament mandated its Legal Affairs Committee to solicit views from the general public on the subject, before potentially changing any laws.

    Malawi courts appeared to have abolished the death sentence in April last year after Supreme Court judge heard the petition of a convicted murderer, and ruled that the death penalty negates the right to life which is otherwise provided for under the Malawi's constitution.

    The judge then ordered the re-sentencing of all cases where the death penalty was handed down.

    However four months later, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying the judge had expressed his personal opinion and the death penalty remained applicable.

    There have been growing calls both locally and internationally for Malawi to abolish the death penalty, especially because the country is a signatory to the declaration of Universal Human Rights in which the punishment is not allowed.

    Tuesday's public hearing is the first of three such sessions with similar events planned for the northern city of Mzuzu and the southern city of Blantyre later this month.

    Malawi currently has 25 people sentenced to death and awaiting execution, but none have been carried out since 1994.

  5. Malawi albino murder: High-profile suspects convicted

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    A High Court in Malawi has found five people guilty of murdering an albino man and three others - a former Roman Catholic priest, a police officer and a hospital clinician - guilty of trading in his body parts.

    MacDonald Masambuka went missing in February 2018 and when his body was discovered a month later, the legs and arms had been removed.

    The 22-year-old man had albinism, which affects the production of melanin - the pigment that gives eyes, skin and hair its colour.

    Over the past decade, Malawi has experienced gruesome attacks and killings of persons with albinism, fuelled by false beliefs that concoctions mixed with their body parts bring luck and wealth.

    A boy with albinism looks on as he plays with a self-made ball in the outskirts of Lilongwe - March 2016
    Image caption: Many people with albinism in Malawi feel vulnerable because of the high risk of attack

    According to official statistics, more than 170 albinos have been killed or maimed since 2014.

    The convictions at the High Court in Blantyre are the first of prominent members of society linked to the attacks.

    They are to be sentenced at a later hearing.

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  6. Daliso Chaponda: Lilongwe, Malawi

    Video content

    Video caption: Shaun Keaveny hears about the delights of Lilongwe, Malawi, from Daliso Chaponda.

    Shaun Keaveny hears about the delights of Lilongwe, Malawi, from Daliso Chaponda.

  7. Malawi government doing bad job fighting corruption - survey

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Lazarus Chakwera addresses supporters during celebrations outside the MCP Headquarters in Lilongwe on February 4, 2020
    Image caption: Lazarus Chakwera campaigned in the 2019 elections on a promise to tackle corruption

    Most Malawians think their government is doing a poor job fighting corruption, the Afrobarometer survey released on Thursday says.

    President Lazarus Chakwera promised zero tolerance for corruption when he first took office in 2020, but Afrobarometer's findings suggest that up to two-thirds of Malawians believe his government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” in fighting corruption - and that over the past year corruption has, in fact, increased.

    Afrobarometer is a pan-African research institution whose Malawi team is led by the Centre for Social Research, a department of the University of Malawi.

    There has been no immediate reaction from the government, but in the past President Chakwera has said he remained committed to fighting corruption, saying proof of his commitment was his full backing and funding for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

    The research findings released in the capital, Lilongwe, have not come as a surprise.

    In the past few months several groups have staged demonstrations across the country protesting against what they perceive as the government's failure to deal with corruption.

    The influential Catholic Church also issued a damning statement in which they said the country's leadership was "weak and indecisive” and not doing enough to fight corruption.

  8. Malawi police frees top journalist after office raid

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Malawian police have released a top investigative journalist after detaining him for hours following a raid in his office.

    Gregory Gondwe heads the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ), an online investigative publication that has become famous for publishing a series of reports exposing high-level corruption.

    His colleague, Golden Matonga, said the police demanded to know the sources of some government documents the PIJ published.

    The security officers on Tuesday seized computers and other hand gadgets belonging to Mr Gondwe and the media house, he added.

    The police declined to comment on the detention.

    A media watchdog in Malawi has condemned the development, saying forcing a journalist to reveal sources of information violates whistle-blower protection privileges.

    The UK embassy in Malawi said on Twitter that it was "very concerned" about the police raid:

    View more on twitter

    Noting that he had been released, the embassy however called for the police to return of the confiscated equipment and respect the privacy of information contained therein.

  9. Malawi axes tax on sanitary pads

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Sanitary pads
    Image caption: Girls who can't afford sanitary pads often miss school during their periods

    Malawians no longer have to pay tax on sanitary pads – as a 16.5% levy has been axed.

    “In the spirit of promoting girl child education, government has listened to the contributions that came from various stakeholders and has consequently removed duty and excise tax on sanitary pads,” Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe said earlier this week.

    Girls who can't afford sanitary pads often miss school during their periods.

    The minister also announced that value added tax would no longer have to be paid on cooking oil and tap water in a bid to help Malawians with rising prices and access to drinking water.

    The changes take effect from Friday 1 April.

  10. Malawi ramps up polio vaccination after outbreak

    Dayo Yusuf

    BBC Africa Health, Kenya

    A health worker delivers a polio vaccine
    Image caption: Polio usually affects children under five

    Malawi will on Monday kick off a polio vaccination campaign targeting up to three million children under the age of five.

    It follows a wild polio virus outbreak in February after a case was detected in a three-year-old child in the capital, Lilongwe.

    Malawi last reported such a case about 30 years ago. The latest one is believed to have come from Pakistan.

    It is still unclear how it arrived in the country, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched an immunisation campaign to contain any possible spread.

    "All of the essential supplies have been moved where they are needed. This includes, vaccines, protective equipment for health workers, mothers and care givers, as have the indelible ink markers issued to mark a child has received the vaccine," said Janet Kayita, WHO country representative for Malawi.

    Health workers will move from house to house to administer the vaccine to all children under five regardless of previous immunisation status.

    WHO says the campaign will eventually be spread to all bordering countries of Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique by the end of the week.

    Subsequent vaccination phases will expand to more countries targeting a total of 80 million children on the continent.

    Africa was declared and certified as free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild poliovirus. This certification has not changed.

    Polio is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and may cause paralysis in a very short time. It can be transmitted from person to person mainly through contamination by faecal matter, contaminated water or food.

    Although polio has no cure, it can be prevented through vaccination.

  11. Malawi bishops label government 'weak' on corruption

    Peter Jegwa

    Lilongwe, Malawi

    Church spire
    Image caption: Protesters have been unhappy with what they perceive as the government's failure to deal with corruption

    The Catholic Church in Malawi has criticised the country's leadership describing it as "weak and indecisive” and not doing enough in the fight against corruption.

    In a pastoral letter, which was signed by bishops, and read out across parishes on Sunday, the Church expressed sadness that decision-making at the highest level of government was slow when it comes to corruption, despite politicians having the necessary legal powers, authority and information to fight it.

    “We believe that a President who campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption, and promised to deal with the vice, will not keep any of his ministers and aides when there is sufficient information about their involvement in corruption,” the bishops said.

    Malawi's government has said it “will look at the letter” and engage with the bishops on the issues raised.

    The opposition and civil society groups have praised the clergy for raising issues they have said are a reflection of concerns members of the general public have.

    In the past few months several groups have staged demonstrations across the country protesting against what they perceive as the government’s failure to deal with rising levels of corruption and lack of support for the popular head of the graft-busting body, Martha Chizuma, who has emerged as a stalwart in the anti-corruption fight.

  12. How Tay Grin uses hip-hop to showcase his culture

    DJ Edu

    Presenter of This Is Africa on BBC World Service

    Tay Grin
    Image caption: Tay Grin says his music is a fusion of modern day sounds and drums

    Tay Grin is a hip-hop artist with a strong connection to Malawian musical traditions. He has won national awards and has his own record label.

    He calls his sound Nyau music, and he's known in Malawi as the “Nyau King”.

    "My sound originates from the soil. It's a fusion of modern day sounds and drums. I'm from a tribe called the Chewa, and when I'm performing on stage I have my traditional drummers. Even our dancing is a fusion of traditional and modern day dance."

    Tay Grin explains that they use specific Nyau drums that have to be warmed up over a fire to thicken the hide.

    "This gives them a quality that doesn't sound like any other drum you've ever heard. It's a very spiritual sound. When you watch the set it's a portrayal of who we are as a people."

    His biggest song is called Chipapapa featuring 2Baba from Nigeria.

    "Chipapapa comes from a game that we used to play as kids and I turned it into a song that everyone can enjoy. It became a huge hit because it resonates with both the younger and older generations.

    Tay Grin grew up listening to many different artists in his household.

    "My mum used to love Kwassa Kwassa so I grew up listening to Kofi Olomide, Papa Wemba and Pepe Kalle."

    Ironically he dropped out of music classes when he was in high school because he was getting bad grades.

    "Fast forward a few years and here I am. Music is a thing that I do every day."

    Tay Grin has a close relationship with his mother: "She has always supported me from the beginning. She even made an appearance in one of my music videos."

    His mother worked with the United Nations and when she retired from the UN and returned to Malawi she became a cabinet minister.

    "Watching my mum in all these leadership roles has sharpened my skills and I hope that one day I can look back and say I've also done great things."

    Tay Grin has also run for political office himself, but came second.

    "I care passionately about the development of my nation. There is a possibility that I might go back, but I think music is the focus now, and there's a lot more that needs to happen in terms of developing the music industry back home and getting Malawi on the map internationally."

    He says he has many exciting projects on the way with his third album dropping this year, and a new song on its way celebrating the Chewa king.

    "I'm proudly showcasing my culture to the world".

    You can hear my full interview with Tay Grin this weekend on This Is Africa on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa

  13. Malawi declares Africa's first wild polio case in years

    A child is vaccinated during a launching ceremony of the five-day polio vaccination campaign in high risk counties, targeting about two million children under five years old, in Kajiado, Kenya, on July 11, 2018.
    Image caption: Polio is a highly infectious disease

    A case of wild polio has emerged in Africa for the first time in five years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

    Malawian health authorities have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after a case was detected in the capital Lilongwe, the WHO said.

    The poliovirus paralysed a three-year-old girl.

    A laboratory test found the strain to be the same as one circulating in Pakistan, the health authorities said.

    Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries where wild polio is endemic.

    The last known case of wild polio in Africa occurred in 2016 in Borno state, Nigeria. The continent was declared free of indigenous wild polio in 2020.

    Polio is a highly infectious disease. The virus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours.

  14. Malawi MPs criticised for demanding raincoats

    Malawians are criticising their MPs after a legislator asked parliament to buy raincoats for them.

    Lilongwe South MP Steven Kamsiyamo made the request on Wednesday saying they needed to shield themselves from the rain while walking to the chamber from the car park.

    The house leader reportedly assured MPs that the matter would be taken to the parliamentary commission committee for consideration.

    Mr Kamsiyamo - who is a member of President Lazarus Chakwera's party - is said to have withdrawn his request hours later:

    View more on twitter

    Some Malawians have been angered by the move, saying the MPs were being selfish and insensitive at a time when floods have devastated many families across the country.

    “We have flood victims in Salima and Lower Shire who need support. Why waste money on raincoats?” Bright Malenga asked on Twitter.

    “This level of entitlement is beyond imagination,” another Twitter user said.

    Flooding caused by recent tropical storm Ana killed dozens of people and destroyed farms, homes and roads.

    Last week, the weather authorities issued flood warning in parts of central and northern Malawi.

  15. Malawi government issues flood warning

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Local people deal with the flooding at Thabwa village in Chikwawa, Malawi
    Image caption: Malawi is still grappling with the aftermath of tropical storm Ana

    Malawi's meteorological department has warned that several central and northern regions of the country could experience floods and urged residents to remain vigilant.

    The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services forecast that there could be more rains and thunderstorms in the areas.

    The general public has been advised to refrain from settling in, cultivating along the said areas during the rain and crossing the flooded areas and to be alert when visiting the areas.

    Parts of the capital, Lilongwe, and several low lying areas are expected to be hit by floods.

    Malawi is still grappling with the aftermath of tropical storm Ana, which killed at least 32 people, caused power outages and massive destruction to property and infrastructure.

    President Lazarus Chakwera appealed for reconstruction support from the international community and assured Malawians that the government would expedite recovery processes.

    The country appears not to have been severely affected by Cyclone Batsirai, which has killed at least 21 people and displaced thousands in Madagascar.

  16. Malawi's president bats away nepotism allegations

    Lazarus Chakwera

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has responded to criticism over his daughter, Violet, being appointed to a position at Malawi's High Commission in London.

    He has been accused of nepotism, but he told the BBC that her appointment as first secretary responsible for investments had nothing to do with him.

    "I never got involved in the process," he said.

    He added that out of his four children she is the only one to hold an official position.

    He suggested that the complaints over the appointment were being pushed for political reasons.

  17. Malawians in diaspora give cash reward to footballers

    Malawi football national team
    Image caption: This year Malawi reached the knock-out phase of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time

    A group of Malawians living in the US have given a cash reward to footballers who represented the country in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) games in Cameroon.

    This is after the team reached the knock-out phase of the tournament for the first time.

    The country's football association said it had received 2.8m Malawian kwacha ($154,000; £114,000) from a group of football-loving Malawians.

    "Each player pocketed K95,000 while the team’s equipment manager and security officer got K70,000 each," read a statement from the association.

    The Malawians in the diaspora raised the money through a WhatsApp group.

    Group chairman Tonny Chirwa said they had given the players the money as a token of appreciation for a job well done and as motivation for them to continue working hard and aiming high.

    President Lazarus Chakwera had also the footballers a cash reward if they got a "desired result" in their game against Senegal and proceeded to the round of 16.

    Malawi achieved a goalless draw in their game with Senegal and proceeded to the round of 16 where they lost to Morocco.

  18. Malawi president orders storm-hit homes to be rebuilt

    Nomsa Maseko

    BBC Southern Africa correspondent

    Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has visited areas affected by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ana.

    More than 30 people are known to have died and many others are still missing.

    The floods flattened maize crops, destroyed buildings and washed away bridges.

    Residents of the village of Thabwa - south of the commercial capital, Blantyre - who lost their homes told President Chakwera they'd never experienced such a disaster before.

    International aid organisations have put up shelters to accommodate all those in need of help, and President Chakwera has ordered the immediate reconstruction of homes and roads.

    The devastation is visible in most affected areas here - with crops, homes and even bridges destroyed.

    Storm Ana has killed more than 80 people across the countries of Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

  19. Storm Ana costs lives and livelihoods in Malawi

    Nomsa Maseko

    BBC Southern Africa correspondent

    Aisha Anubi
    Image caption: Aisha Anubi has lost her maize crops - her sole source of income

    Flattened maize crops, waterlogged farms and collapsed bridges are what greet us in Chikwawa, an hour's drive south of Blantyre.

    Construction vehicles are lining up on the side of the road where the main bridge that connects Blantyre and Chikwawa district was washed away by heavy flooding a few days ago.

    There’s an unusual heavy police presence here, because President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to inspect the damage.

    Aisha Anubi's maize crops, the size of a football pitch, were all destroyed by flooding.

    The 20-year-old tells the BBC that she has lost her only source of income.

    This is one of many vehicles that were caught up in the storm and washed away by flooding:

    A battered car.

    It's unknown if the vehicle occupants managed to escape unharmed.

    At least 36 people have died in Malawi while many others are still unaccounted for.

    With more rain expected in the next few days, people here are worried about losing their homes.