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Malawi president denies corruption allegations

Peter Mutharika
AFP

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has dismissed calls by activists to resign over allegations he received a kickback from a $4m (£3m) a government contract, news agency Reuters reports.

The country's anti-graft body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), has been investigating a $4m police food supply contract awarded to Pioneer Investments, a firm owned by businessman Zameer Karim, who has denied any wrongdoing.

A leaked ACB report published by Malawi's two main newspapers said the businessman deposited $200,000 into an account belonging to the ruling party and of which Mr Mutharika is the sole signatory, Reuters reports.

The ACB said that its leaked report is not final.

Mr Mutharika, 77, has called the allegation "fake news" and says it is intended to malign his name ahead of elections next year.

The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has supported calls for Mr Mutharika's resignation, saying, "He needs to resign and call for early elections".

Is Malawi's leader too old for a second term?

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

Peter Mutharika visits flood victims at Bangula Primary School camp in the most southern district of Nsanje, on January 21, 2015
AFP
President Peter Mutharika is hoping to be re-elected in next year's poll

Malawi's ruling party has been divided ever since the widow of the late President Bingu Mutharika said his brother, the current President Peter Mutharika, is too old to run for a second term, arguing he should make way for his 45-year-old deputy, Saulos Chilima.

But in move that has shocked many in Malawi, Mr Chilima has announced he will not be challenging his 79-year-old boss for the party presidency at its elective convention later this month.

Addressing the media in the capital Lilongwe, Mr Chilima said he does not want to be seen as fighting the founders of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Saulos Klaus Chilima gives a press conference at his office at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, on June 6, 2018.
AFP
Speculation is that Saulos Chilima may form his own party

Today’s unexpected decision by Mr Chilima, who has reasonable support within the DPP, has eased tension in the party.

However, his supporters, who saw him as the future leader of Malawi, will feel betrayed.

There are suggestions that he could be planning to form a political party ahead of elections in May 2019.

If Mr Mutharika is re-elected, he will be 80 when he begins a new five-year term - which some people feel makes him too old for the job.

But President Mutharika has laughed off these concerns and, on more than one occasion, declared he will lead the ruling party in 2019.

The main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party, will be fielding Lazarus Chakwera as its candidate.

Speculation is also rife that former President Joyce Banda, who returned home in April, will also make a run for the top job.

Safari park experts advise anti-poaching expedition

British Army personnel have been meeting zoological experts at West Midlands Safari Park, ahead of an anti-poaching mission to Malawi.

They're due to train park rangers on techniques to protect threatened species.

Elephant
BBC

The soldiers are due to pass on expertise such as tracking and counter insurgency tactics, which were used in operational tours in countries including Afghanistan.

Malawi VP says corruption has reached 'embarrassing levels'

Malawi's vice-president has lashed out at corruption in the country - saying it had reached "embarrassing levels".

Saulos Chilima told crowds in central Malawi that people within his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), were responsible, according to the Nyasa Times.

Let us condemn corruption. Let as stop handclapping thieves. Corruption is worsening and is reached an embarrassing levels. It is an evil practice which puts lives of people at risk as it leads to drug shortage in hospitals, among other things."

Malawi has long struggled with corruption. Transparency International - which awards points from 0 to 100, with 0 being highly corrupt - gave Malawi just 32 points in 2017.

However, Mr Chilima's comments are being seen in the context of elections next year.

President Peter Mutharika, 79, has already indicated he wants to run again, but others want the younger Mr Chilima as the DPP candidate.

Malawi maize production drops by 19%

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Maize production in Malawi has fallen by nearly 20% this year.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Mwanavekha blamed decline on drought and an invasion of the fall armyworm, which devours crops.

Maize is Malawi's staple food.

Yields of other major crops are also expected to fall.

Much of southern Africa has been badly affected by drought, including the South African city of Cape Town which came close to running out of water.

Money raised to repatriate body of asylum seeker

Clare Lissaman

BBC News

Friends of a "vulnerable" woman who died eight days after being severely injured in a fire are raising money to repatriate her body to the Malawian village from where she came.

Beatrice Zigowe
Other

Beatrice Zigowe, who was seeking asylum in the UK, was badly burnt and suffered smoke inhalation in the fire at her flat in Widdrington Road, Coventry, on 18 March. She died on 26 March.

A woman from the Malawian community in the UK started an online campaign, which has raised more than £3,000 to return Ms Zigowe's body to her country of birth.

Loraine Mponela, from Coventry Asylum Refugee Action Group (Carag), visited Ms Zigowe in hospital and said she had been sedated after being badly burned.

She said Ms Zigowe had family in Malawi and it was “culturally important” for her to be laid to rest back there.

Carag said Ms Zigowe was a “vulnerable adult” whose mobility had been affected by a stroke in 2004.