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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Former Malawi president Joyce Banda
has returned home to Blantyre

BLANTYRE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda returned home on Saturday four years after she went into exile following Peter Mutharika’s rise to power in 2014.

JB, as she is popularly called in Malawi, landed through Chileka International Airport at noon clad in orange and black dress.

The former Malawi leader, who was accompanied by her husband, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, was welcomed by her People’s Party (PP) officials and party supporters who jam-packed the airport clad in the party’s orange color.

Before addressing her party supporters, JB told the press that she was very excited to be home.

On her warrant of arrest in connection to plunder of public funds during her reign as announced by the Malawi police in 2017, the former Malawi leader said “I have never been told about the warrant of arrest and I don’t know why they would want to arrest me.”

JB is scheduled to hold her first political rally on Sunday at Domasi in Zomba where she hails from, according to PP officials.

Her return was officially announced by her party spokesperson Nowa Chimpeni on Monday.

Malawi Police Service in 2017 issued warrant of arrest for the former president on allegations that she was connected to the embezzlement of public funds in a scandal known as cashgate.

JB attained the office of the presidency on April 7, 2012, following the death of President Bingu Mutharika.

She then lost the May 2014 elections, which saw Bingu’s brother Peter Mutharika rising to power under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Malawi police give nod to national demos, caution on riots

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi Police Service (MPS) have given the nod to national demonstrations organized by the civil society organizations in Malawi on Friday to protest against poor governance and other issues.

The police have assured all Malawians intending to participate in the demos that there will be maximum security across the country.

Some Civil Society Organization’s in the country have organized the demos to present their petition to government in protest of various issues, including persistent power blackouts, dwindling of education standards, high level of corruption and high rate of unemployment.

In a statement signed by MPS spokesperson James Kadadzera, the police acknowledge that the constitution of the Republic of Malawi accords every citizen the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed, hence Malawians are free to do that peacefully.

“Every citizen participating in the demonstrations is required, by law, to desist from destruction of property, causing injury to people, unnecessary obstruction of traffic, acts of hooliganism and use of words that propagate hatred against a group of people,” reads part of the statement.

The police have also warned that it has information that some unpatriotic people are planning to “advance their selfish and criminal interests during the demos but police officers are ready to deal with any unlawful act during the demonstrations.”

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Malawi government cuts costs in Public Service to cushion economy shocks

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi government has put up cost-cutting measures in its Public Service to help save funds being wasted through over expenditure.

In a circular released Monday signed by the country’s Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, the expenditure control measures, and fleet management measures, follow evident over expenditure by controlling officers in the country’s public service as per disclosed in the 2017/2018 Mid Year Budget Review.

“The 2017/18 Mid Year Budget Review has given all indications that the country is facing financial challenges. Government has noted that some Controlling Officers are not exercising expenditure controls, and as a result, there is increased expenditure,” reads part of the statement.

The communication has since instituted, as part of expenditure control measures, restriction of Business Class air travel to the country’s Speaker of the National Assembly, the National Chief Justice, and The Chief Secretary to the Government.

Within the Public Sector but outside the Civil Service only the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi is allowed business class air travel.

Meanwhile, the statement has stressed that implementation of all the measures is with immediate effect.

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Malawi to continue producing tobacco

LILONGWE  Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi president Peter Mutharika Monday said the country will continue producing tobacco as the crop remains the country’s major forex earner.

The Malawi President said this during the opening of the 2018 tobacco market season in the country’s capital, Lilongwe where he emphasized that the green gold will remain the country’s first cash crop for years to come.

Mutharika said some buyers have also assured Malawi government that they will continue buying the gold leaf and the president has since appealed to Malawi farmers to strive for quality leaf to attract good prices for international market.

He said government will strengthen the legal framework in the tobacco industry to protect the farmers from being exploited by the buyers.

“At the moment all the technical work on amendment of the Tobacco Act is done, the bill is ready for discussion at cabinet level and might be tabled in Parliament this coming June,” said President Mutharika.

The Malawi leader also appealed to all security agencies to enforce the law to stop illegal vending of the leaf and he asked buyers to offer higher prices to motivate the farmers.

According to the country’s Tobacco Control Commission, this tobacco season Malawi has produced only 147 million kg, while the buyers’ demand is 171 million kg.

The commission chairperson Inkosi Mbelwa V, said the drop in production is due to the dry spells that the country experienced during the growing season.

During the 2016/17 growing season, Malawi realized about 212 million U.S. dollars from about 107 million kg of tobacco that were sold through the legal channels.

Currently farmers have already registered their dismay with the prices that are being offered by buyers with a maximum of 1.5 U.S. dollars and a minimum of 80 cents offered per kg.

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Malawi police arrest 3 men for possessing suspected human bones

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi police have arrested three men for being found in possession of bones believed to be part of the remains of a man with leprosy who died sometime back.

The three were arrested in the eastern district of Machinga barely two weeks after seven men were also arrested in the same district in connection to the brutal killing of a 22-year-old man with albinism, apparently for his body parts.

A statement released Sunday by the district’s police spokesperson, Constable Davie Sulumba, said the police received some information on April 11 that a man was keeping human bones and the police followed the tip-off and arrested the suspect.

The arrest of the man led to further arrests of the other two suspects.

The police spokesperson said the bones have since been seized pending examination at the country’s College of Medicine to ascertain if they are indeed human bones.

The three face charges of possessing human tissues which contravenes Section 224 of the country’s Anatomy Act.

Malawi has since 2014 registered over 150 cases of attacks on people with albinism and during the same period over 20 persons with albinism have been brutally killed for their body parts which some believe are vital for rituals to accumulate wealth.

However, the case at hand involving exhumation of remains of a person who had leprosy is a new trend altogether.

Earlier in the month the United Nations in Malawi strongly condemned the resurfacing of killing of people with albinism in the country describing it as “retrogressive given the achievements made in fighting the same since 2014”.

The UN was reacting to the recent brutal killing of the 22-year-old man, Macdonald Masambuka, who went missing early March and his body was later found in April buried in a shallow grave in the eastern district of Machinga.

Malawi president Peter Mutharika has since asked for an honest national dialogue on implementation of a death penalty following the incident, describing it as “depressing development being happening at the time government has made tremendous progress in efforts to stop the barbaric act”.

The Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) also registered its concern on the latest development saying capital punishment to the offenders could be the only solution to end the malpractice.

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Malawi: priest arrested in albino killing

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- A Catholic priest in Malawi has been arrested in connection to the brutal killing of a 22-year-old man with albinism, police confirmed Tuesday.

Police Service spokesperson James Kadadzera told local media that the priest, Father Thomas Muhosha, was arrested on Monday in the eastern district of Machinga as he attempted to cross into neighboring Mozambique.

According to the police, the priest’s arrest brings the number of suspects connected to the killing, in early April, of the man with albinism to 12, including a police officer and a health worker.

McDonald Masambuka, who was born with albinism, went missing in mid-March. His body was found on April 1 in a shallow grave with some parts missing.

The United Nations strongly condemned the resurfacing of the killing of people with albinism in Malawi.

Malawi president Peter Mutharika has asked for “an honest national dialogue on implementation of a death penalty following the barbaric act.”

The presidential statement followed an appeal from the Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi for the government to implement the death penalty in the southern African country.

Since 2014, Malawi has registered at least 125 cases of attacks and killings of persons with albinism. More than 20 people were brutally killed for their body parts which unfounded beliefs claim are used for charms to create wealth.

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UN coordinator condemns resurfacing albino killings in Malawi

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi has strongly condemned the resurfacing killings of people with albinism in the country, describing it as retrogressive given the achievements made since 2014.

The UN made the condemnation in reaction to the recent brutal killing of a 22-year-old man, Macdonald Masambuka, who went missing early March and whose body was found buried in a shallow grave on April in the country’s eastern district of Machinga.

In a statement dated April 4, UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi Maria Jose Torres described the act as retrogressive given the achievements the country had made since the fight against the act started in 2014.

“We encourage the authorities to ensure that a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the killing of this young man is made and that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice,” urged the UN Resident Coordinator in the statement.

She urged Malawi government and stakeholders to redouble their efforts to implement the National Action Plan which addresses the root causes of attacks on persons with albinism, including a nationwide awareness raising campaign.

The Malawi Police Service (MPS) has so far arrested seven suspects in connection to Masambuka’s murder and among the suspects are police officers and a medical practitioner.

“We are concerned that persons that were entrusted with the responsibility of promoting and protecting the life of all Malawians including persons with albinism are the ones allegedly suspected to have had a hand in the killing of Macdolnald,” explains the UN Resident Coordinator.

Masambuka’s incident brings to four the total number of attacks on persons with albinism in 2018 alone.

Currently the Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has also registered its concern on the latest development, saying capital punishment to the offenders could have helped to end the malpractice.

Since 2014, Malawi has registered at least 125 cases of attacks and killings of persons with albinism where at least 20 people were brutally killed.

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Malawi president calls for dialogue on death penalty

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi president Peter Mutharika has asked for an honest national dialogue on implementation of death penalty following the resurfacing of brutal killings of people with albinism.

Mutharika’s request came barely a day after the United Nations strongly condemned the resurfacing killing of people with albinism in the southern African developing country following the recent brutal killing of a 22 year old man with albinism in eastern district of Machinga.

In a statement released Wednesday, UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Maria Jose Torres, described the trend as retrogressive and urged partners to redouble their efforts in increasing awareness to the people.

But reacting to the same through a press statement signed by his Press Secretary and Spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, Mutharika expressed shock and sadness and called for dialogue on implementation of death penalty.

“This depressing development is happening at a time government has made tremendous progress in efforts to stop such barbarous acts and the latest of these hideous attacks is the abduction and subsequent murder of Mr. McDonald Masambuka,” reads the statement.

“...the President is asking for an honest national dialogue on whether the country should start implementing the death penalty or not on individuals sentenced to death for murder,” continues the statement.

The statement further said the Malawi leader was aware that there were some stakeholders who passionately felt that implementing the death penalty on individuals sentenced to death could prevent others from attacking persons with albinism.

Mutharika has assured the public that the government will dig deep into the abduction and murder of Masambuka to ensure that all suspects are brought to book regardless of their social status.

The 22-year-old Masambuka went missing mid-March 2018 and his body was found on April 2 buried in a shallow grave with some parts missing.

Malawi Police Service have since arrested seven suspects including a police officer and a health worker at the district’s hospital.

Over 120 cases of attacks on people with albinism have been recorded in Malawi since 2014 and out of these cases over 20 people were brutally murdered.

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Malawi Police intercepts two Zambian ivory smugglers

MCHINJI Malawi (Xinhua) -- Police in Malawi’s central region of Mchinji on Monday intercepted two Zambian nationals who attempted to smuggle ivory into Malawi, authorities said.

The suspects, identified as 38-year-old John Phiri 32-year-old Julius Daka, were arrested at the Kaombe checkpoint, along the border with Zambia.

The two were nabbed following a joint operation that involved police and wildlife authorities from Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, according to Mchinji police spokesperson Kaitano Lubrino.

The two suspects were arrested after they had already entered the country through un-chartered routes, Lubrino said.

Eight pieces of ivory, weighing 16.5 kg, were recovered from the suspects, he said. 

             

 

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