Category Archives: Malawi

July 31 – August 6, 2017: Juju gets Zambia all hot and bothered, while Malawi wants ex-president behind bars

zambiaYou have to hand it to the South African opposition If they weren’t enough of a pain already with their points of order and protests, they’ve now managed to irritate an entire foreign power: Zambia.

First it was Mmusi Maimane, who in May was stopped from entering the country to attend a court appearance of jailed opposition politician Hakainde Hichilema.

Then, last weekend, Julius Malema called President Edgar Lungu a “coward” and likened him to apartheid leaders Hendrik Verwoerd and FW de Klerk for imposing a partial state of emergency last month.

Zambia’s response has been colourful to say the least.

Choice quotes from a statement by the ruling Patriotic Front party include:

  • “Malema is such a hypocrite who seeks to vilify Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, but still go to bed with beneficiaries of Verwoerd’s apartheid, the Democratic Alliance.”
  • “Malema’s EFF and Mmusi Maimane have one paymaster… the two are nothing but puppets of those who seek to control Zambia’s mineral rights through their stooges.”
  • “He is a political sell-out who has no right to poke his nose into Zambia’s business!”

In a separate statement, information minister Kampamba Mulenga said Malema “should realise that Zambians are politically mature and are capable of dealing with their own issues if any, and cannot stoop so low as to ask for help from political charlatans and unruly individuals”.

President Jacob Zuma, on the other hand, was warmly welcomed when he arrived in Zambia for an agricultural trade show at the weekend.

SABC reports that the two heads of state “discussed the political situation prevailing in Zambia”. What that means, though, is anybody’s guess.

malawiMalawi last week issued an arrest warrant for former president Joyce Banda after police announced they had found evidence linking her to the $32 million Cashgate corruption scandal that in 2013 saw the country cut off from foreign aid.

A police spokesperson told Bloomberg that there was “reasonable suspicion that the former president committed offences relating to abuse of office and money laundering”.

Banda, who was elected president in 2012, left Malawi shortly after losing the 2014 vote — and hasn’t been back since.

Banda’s spokesperson said “security concerns” were keeping her away. But even as he said the former stateswoman would cooperate with the investigation, Andekuche Chanthunya called the warrant a “political witch hunt“.

Speaking to Reuters, Banda said, “I will be coming back because I never did anything wrong and I am innocent.”

zimbabweZimbabwe‘s opposition parties came together last week to form a coalition ahead of next year’s election, announcing they would jointly back MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai for president.

IOL reports that seven parties — including the mothership Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from which Tsvangirai split in 2005 — came together at a rally of “about 3000 supporters”.

“Why have we wasted our efforts for the past 10 years fighting each other when we have achieved nothing to show for it?” Tsvangirai reportedly said.

Analysts have pointed to the competing egos of Zimbabwe’s fractured opposition as one of the reasons for President Robert Mugabe’s continuing hold on the country.

After a near-ousting of Mugabe in the 2008 vote, the MDC-T lost ground in momentum in the next poll five years later.

“It is you, the people who demanded this unity,” Tsvangirai said Saturday, according to VOA. “Today we have come here to publicly testify that we heeded your call.”

drcOver 100 people were arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week in protests against the ongoing delay in the country’s elections.

President Joseph Kabila’s term was set to end last year, but was postponed for what the government described as financial and logistical reasons.

An agreement reached with the opposition pushed that election deadline to the end of this year, but the electoral commission recently announced this would still not be met.

The country-wide, youth-led protests last Monday saw demonstrators in running battles with police and over 100 held, reports VOA.

According to AFP, several journalists covering the action were also detained.

Says the Committee to Protect Journalists: “Security forces released all of the journalists by the end of the day, but deleted many of the journalists’ photographs and recordings first.”


July 17 – 23, 2017: Tanzania crackdown continues as Malawi jails former minister

tanzaniaTanzania last week arrested a leading opposition figure, days after he called President John Magufuli a “dictator”.

Tundu Lissu, chief whip of the main opposition party Chadema, called on the international community at a press conference last Monday to cut off aid to the country.

“The dictator and his government” needed to be “isolated politically, diplomatically and economically,” Lissu reportedly said, according to TRT World.

He was arrested three days later at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the capital Dar Es Salaam.

A police spokesperson told AP Lissu was being questioned over “making anti-government speeches that could lead to unrest”.

Lissu is the second Chadema MP arrested in July alone.

Earlier this month, Halima Mdee was taken in for questioning after calling on citizens to “denounce this tendency of President John Pombe Magufuli who thinks his declarations are law”.

Insulting the president has been a criminal offence in Tanzania since 2015.

The Tanganyika Lawyers Society, of which Lissu is president, released a statement condemning the arrest of people “when they air their personal views”, reported The Citizen.

Government spokesman Hassan Abbas’ response? “The government will not accept that someone, or a group of people, abuse the freedom of expression”.

malawiFive months after he was fired over his alleged role in a $35 million maize importing scandal, Malawi‘s former agriculture minister was last week arrested and charged with corruption.

George Chaponda has since been released on bail and will appear in court next month after an inquiry found “he had flouted procedures by hiring a private broker to import the maize”, reports the Nyasa Times. “He is also accused of sourcing the grain, in contravention of ministerial rules, for personal gain.”

According to Xinhua, the maize was procured from Zambia at a time when the El Nino-induced drought had left millions of Malawians food insecure.

When investigators raided Chaponda’s home in February, reports the agency, “they found and confiscated 58,000 US dollars and 124 million Malawian Kwachas of local currency (about 171,100 dollars) in stacks of cash stashed in suitcases”.

angolaLawmakers in Angola last week greatly curtailed the powers of the executive, passing a law that limits the president’s ability to remove security chiefs from their posts.

And the opposition isn’t happy.

The law, which does not apply to the current head of state, was passed just weeks before the long-ruling Jose Eduardo dos Santos steps down — and paves the way for him to extend his hold on the country long after he leaves the job, the opposition says.

“It’s unacceptable to have this law curtails the power of future president,” Unita MP Miranda Jamba told Bloomberg.

“It means that the president will not be able to remove them from their posts,” CASE-CE MP Andre Mendes de Carvalho told AFP.

Dos Santos is not running in the August 23 poll, having just returned from his second medical visit to Europe this year.

July 3 – 9, 2017: Zambia’s state of almost-emergency and Malawi stampede kills 8

Zambia‘s president Edgar Lungu dominated the headlines last week after declaring a partial state of emergency.

If approved by the national assembly, Lungu will be armed with broad powers allowing authorities to impose curfews, ban meetings, censor publications and search premises without a warrant.

The declaration Wednesday came after an early-morning fire gutted over 1,300 stalls in the capital’s City Market, reported the Lusaka Timesthe latest incident over the last year that Lungu has labelled as “sabotage”.

In a speech the following day, the president said his latest move would give the police “more clout” in their investigations and insisted it was not intended to target the opposition.

If so, his timing couldn’t be worse — or raise eyebrows any higher. His main rival, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), has been jailed since April on a traffic-related treason charge, while 48 UPND lawmakers are currently suspended for boycotting a Lungu speech earlier this year.

malawiEight people were killed in a stampede in Malawi last week when police fired teargas into a crowd of thousands gathered outside the national stadium for the country’s independence day celebrations.

“Eight people — seven children aged around eight years old, and one adult died,” police spokesman James Kadadzera told news agency AFP.

Another 62 injured were being treated in hospital.

“Gates at the 40,000-capacity stadium were supposed to open at 06:30 local time to allow free entry of people — but there was a delay of about three hours,” reported the BBC. “However, thousands had already turned up, and some tried to force their way in, prompting the police to fire tear gas.:

According to the Nyasa Times, “hundreds of people rushed at one of the stadium gates, causing some to fall and be trampled underfoot.”

The stadium’s manager told the newspaper the accident would have happened if the gates had opened on time.

President Peter Mutharika cancelled a speech he was scheduled to give at the stadium, but the planned football match went ahead.

tanzaniaTanzanian authorities last week arrested an opposition politician for insulting the president — a criminal offence in a country that is increasingly attracting attention for all the wrong reasons.

Halima Mdee of the main opposition Chadema party was jailed after after making a speech about, ahem ahem, the government’s autocratic tendencies — which have included a strong anti-LGBTI stance and the expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls.

“We should denounce this tendency of President John Pombe Magufuli who thinks his declarations are law,” she reportedly said. “If we continue to do nothing, one day he will order Tanzanians to walk barefoot or topless, because he knows he has the support of police… We must absolutely put the breaks on this president.”

Going a long way in helping prove her point, a local district commissioner the next day order Mdee be “questioned and sent to court to explain the insults she made against our president”, reports Reuters.

Insulting the president has been a criminal offence in Tanzania since 2015.

According to Reuters: “More than 10 people, including university students and a lecturer, have been charged in court over the past few months with insulting the president via social networking platform like WhatsApp… It is punishable by up to three years in jail, a fine of around $3,000 or both.”

angolaAnd Angola‘s president is back in Spain just one month after returning from an extended medical stay there.

The 74-year-old Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has said he will not be running in next month’s election, has ruled the country since 1979.

His last trip to Spain was plagued with rumours that he had suffered a stroke abroad and it was weeks before the government admitted he had been seeking medical treatment there.

His latest trip to Barcelona, they said, was a “private visit”.

According to AFP, the presidency said in a statement, “President dos Santos left Luanda on Monday for a private visit to the Kingdom of Spain for personal business.”

They did not say when he would return.

June 26 – July, 2017: Zimbabwe jails #ThisFlag pastor again

Pastor and activist Evan Mawarire was arrested in Zimbabwe last Monday after attending a protest by medical students against rising university fees.

Mawarire’s lawyer told AFP the pastor had been charged with disorderly conduct.

He was released two days later and is expected back in court on July 19.

Mawarire rose to prominence last year after leading the #ThisFlag protests against the government — which saw him detained and subsequently flee to the US for several months.

According to Reuters, “the 40-year-old preacher is also due to stand trial in September on separate charges of plotting to overthrow the government and insulting the national flag”.

His involvement in the student protest last week came after a planned doubling in tuition fees.

Three student leaders were arrested.

Reports News24: “University authorities accused the protesters of throwing stones during the demonstration. Hundreds of medical students were ordered to leave their residences on Monday evening, and some had to sleep out in the open or take shelter at a local church… The students’ evictions came at the worst possible time, as the medical students were this week due to begin writing exams.”

tanzaniaTanzania last week confirmed its plans to forge ahead with a hydropower plant in a World Heritage site, despite years of opposition to the project.

In a statement released last week, President John Magufuli said he “wants construction of this project to start as quickly as possible and produce an abundant supply of electricity to speed up the development of the country”, reports CNBC Africa.

The 2,100-megawatt plant is set to be built along Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve in the country’s south-east, reports The Citizen.

The UN’s cultural arm UNESCO has repeatedly called for the project to be cancelled, warning it could harm the game reserve.

But it’s a project the government considers vital to development.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, just “2% of rural people and 39% of urban people have access to electricity” in Tanzania: “The current energy demand and supply balance reflects the country’s low level of industrialization and development.”

Magufuli said in his statement that experts from Ethiopia were visiting Tanzania to share their expertise on hydropower projects, reports AFP.

malawiMalawi last week became the first country in the world to open a humanitarian drone corridor after a successful test-run last year using drones to deliver blood samples for HIV testing.

Unicef says the corridor at Kasungu, some two hours from the capital Lilongwe, will look to generate aerial images for monitoring crises, to deliver supplies like vaccines and medicine, and to extend Wi-Fi signals in cut-off areas.

“Malawi has limited road access to rural areas even at the best of times, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities,” the agency said in a statement. “With UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) we can easily fly over the affected area and see clearly what the impact has been on the ground. This is cheaper and better resolution than satellite images.”

According to Mail & Guardian, officials in Malawi had some convincing to do to sell residents on the idea of the corridor.

“Before we did the sensitisation people thought we were introducing satanism,” one official told the paper. “After we did the sensitisation, they said it’s for the common good.”

April 24 – 30, 2017: Malawi fights child marriage

 malawiMalawi’s president Peter Mutharika last week signed a key amendment to the country’s constitution that officially makes child marriage illegal.

This has been a long-fought battle in a country which has among the highest rates of child marriage in the world

Malawi had previously adjusted its marriage laws to set the age of marriage at 18 and above. But the Constitution still allowed children between the ages of 15 and 18 to marry with parental consent, leaving all kinds of legal loopholes in its wake, as the Human Rights Watch video below (slightly dated but such an informative watch) makes clear.

This latest amendment removes all ambiguity from the question: constitutionally, the legal age for marriage in Malawi is now 18 or older.

But laws alone won’t solve the problem.

“Child rights advocates say enforcing the law will be difficult unless the government also addresses the poverty that drives families to marry off their young daughters,” reports VOA. “Some families cannot afford school fees for girls, or simply have too many mouths to feed.”

Recommended reading:
This great Al Jazeera profile on Theresa Kachindamoto, a Malawian chief who had hundreds of child marriages in her district annulled: “When she learned that child marriages were still taking place in some areas, she fired four male chiefs responsible for these areas. They returned months later to tell her that all marriages had been undone. After sending people to verify this, she hired the chiefs back.”

zimbabweMonths after Zimbabwe introduced custom bond notes as a way out of the country’s continuing cash crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not convinced.

Speaking at a briefing in Washington at the weekend, the organisation’s Africa director Abebe Aemro Selassie said, “We think that going down this one (bond) note route, in and of itself, will not address the challenges that the country has.”

Zimbabweans themselves are likely to agree. The temporary relief the bond notes provided when first introduced has vanished and Zimbabweans still spend their days queuing to access limited funds. Like the dollars before them, the bond notes are also becoming scarce, reports News24.

Now, the country’s Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya has decided no more bond notes will be issued.

“The fundamental problem of this economy is not about currency but localised production, stimulating exports and discouraging imports of finished products at all cost,” the central bank chief told the Sunday Mail.

The IMF tends to agree.

“It’s very important to have a more comprehensive policy package which also addresses a lot of the fiscal challenges that the country faces, a lot of the structural reforms that have to be done,” said Selassie.

tanzaniaTanzania this week fired nearly 10,000 civil servants who faked their qualifications — including, amazingly and ironically, “the head of the government’s anti-corruption body, the tax chief, a senior rail official and head of the port authority”, reports The Guardian.

According to AFP, president John Magufuli said the “9,932 employees recruited on the basis of false diplomas will not receive their salary for this month of April and have to leave their positions immediately”.

Seemingly on a roll, Magufuli then also fired and deported the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the country, Awa Dabo.

The government attributed her dismissal to her “poor relations with her work colleagues”.

But many others are tying it to her criticism of the disputed 2015 vote in Tanzania’s island sibling, Zanzibar. The results were annulled after the opposition declared victory. And when the vote was held a second time around in March 2016, furious opposition parties boycotted — and the ruling party won.

Criticism from Dabo could have impacted funding for Tanzania. Reports the BBC: “Zanzibar’s controversial election re-run in March 2016 prompted a US government aid agency to withdraw nearly half a billion dollars of funding from Tanzania… Speaking on condition of anonymity, a UNDP official said that Ms Dabo had been deported on the same day the government issued the order, under a security escort.”

zambiaAnd finally, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is still behind bars in Zambia after his treasonous traffic run-in with president Edgar Lungu.

HH appeared in court this week hoping to have the widely derided charges against him thrown out. No such luck. Al Jazeera reports that “magistrate Greenwell Malumani said he did not have the power to dismiss the charges, which can only be handled by the High Court”.

Hichilema and his co-accused are back in court this Thursday, for a preliminary inquiry to allow the court “to sample the evidence in the matter in order to ascertain the validity of the charge”, reports ZNBC.

Meanwhile, and seemingly without a hint of irony, Lungu told young Zambians at the weekend not to “retaliate” when provoked by opposition, reports the Lusaka Times.

“You are all aware of the provocation we are facing as a party, please don’t retaliate… You should not fall prey to any political provocation because you have a critical role in promoting unity, love and peace.”

Recommended reading:

  • This AFP piece on the impact China’s demand for wooden furniture is having on Mozambique‘s forests: “The work of policing the sprawling country’s vast forests is ‘complicated’… ‘We don’t have sufficient means, we don’t have enough personnel… It’s like we have our limbs cut off.'”
  • This great NewsDeeply read out of Angola, where lawmakers are pushing to ban abortion entirely — “with no exceptions for rape, fetus malformation, or when the mother’s life is in danger”.
  • And this Guardian profile on Rodrigue Katembo, a child soldier-cum-ranger who risks his life daily protecting the DRC‘s national parks: “When we see how many [groups] are trying to destroy our protected areas, we cannot stop now. If I left, that would feel like a betrayal to the protections the wildlife and national parks deserve.”

April 3 – 9, 2017: And we’re back!

It’s been a good 2.5 years since I put out the last SADC Wrap, and the mound of southern African news that has piled up in my inbox is… daunting. 

Deep breath, and here we go.

drcIn our top story this week, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila lobbed a solid FU at the opposition last week when he appointed the wrong man prime minister in the country’s unity government.

Now, the last time I wrote about Kabila was September 2014, when an opposition politician was jailed for making speeches against the president’s ambitions to run for an unconstitutional third term.

What’s happened since then? The government put off the scheduled 2016 elections citing funding issues and major delays in voter registration. Understandably, the opposition felt otherwise about this. Strikes turned violent. People died. But come the end of 2016, Kabila was still sitting pretty as president.

Then, on the last day of the year, the two sides came to an agreement: Kabila would form a unity government with the opposition, and together they would work towards ensuring elections were held before the end of 2017.

And then the opposition leader died.

It was nothing nefarious. Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPSD), was 84 years old and in Belgium at the time. But “a power struggle erupted over who should succeed him”, reported the New York Times — Tshisekedi’s son Felix, or someone else?

Enter Kabila, who decided he would not accept Felix Tshisekedi alone as the opposition coalition’s candidate for Prime Minister. No: they would have to submit three names and he would make his pick.

That announcement came Friday. But instead of appointing Tshisekedi Junior, Kabila chose Bruno Tshibala — a former UPSD member pushed from the party for opposing Tshisekedi as natural successor to his father. Analysts say this is likely to only divide the opposition further.

Reports the Times:

Israel Mutala, a political analyst, said Mr Tshibala’s appointment “risks exacerbating” the political crisis and was likely to increase divisions within the opposition. Mr Kabila’s move “gave power to a fringe minority” of the opposition, Mr Mutala said, and seemed to undermine the spirit of the agreement reached in December, the details of which have still not been fully carried out.

And this from Al Jazeera:

Tshisekedi’s son, Felix, who replaced his father as president of the Rassemblement, said Kabila violated the deal by not naming a candidate of the alliance’s choosing.

“We continue to demand the application of the December 31, 2016 accord,” he told Reuters news agency. “The nomination of Bruno Tshibala is a departure from the accord.”

Read more on this: 

This is a dense and ongoing story of an opposition rent by factional battles, with Kabila seemingly cast in the role of Grand Puppet Master. I highly recommend this Crisis Group brief if you want a deeper understanding of the situation. It’s a long one, but contains some great insights into how Kabila is somehow still in power.

This is also a good read on the man who should have been king: Tshisekedi Junior. It certainly highlights why some in the opposition would have stood against him. Case in point: “At 53, the younger Tshisekedi has spent most of his life in Belgium. He has never held public office (though he was elected to parliament in 2011 and boycotted his seat at the direction of his father) and only moved into a leadership role in the UDPS as its national secretary for external relations in 2008. For most of his professional life, he toiled in relative obscurity within the party’s European diaspora organizations.”

(Note that both pieces are slightly dated as they were written before Tshibala was named Prime Minister.)


Seychelles found itself at the centre of the ongoing Trump-Russia love-in after a Washington Post report last week that said (and I’m just going to copy-paste this paragraph straight from the story because, man, is it convoluted) “the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to US, European and Arab officials”.

The site of this meeting? Seychelles.

Now, I’m not going to go into too much depth over this because it’s more a US-Russia story than it is an African story, but I will leave you with this incredible tidbit about Seychelles from the country’s own foreign affairs minister:

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” said Barry Faure, the Seychelles secretary of state for foreign affairs. “The Seychelles is the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the eyes of the media. That’s even printed in our tourism marketing. But I guess this time you smelled something.”

malawiA study on abortion in Malawi revealed an estimated 141,000 abortions were performed in the country in 2015. This despite it being illegal to have an abortion in Malawi unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Clearly, that law isn’t working. Says co-author Dr Chisale Mhango of the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine: “Restrictive abortion laws do not stop abortion from occurring, they just drive it underground, forcing women to resort to clandestine procedures, which are often unsafe.”

You can read the Guttmacher Institute’s study here, but I’ll leave you with some choice findings:

  • In Malawi in 2015, 39 percent of pregnancies ended in planned births, 30 percent in unplanned births, 16 percent in abortion and 15 percent in miscarriages.
  • Out of the estimated 141,000 abortions performed in Malawi in 2015, approximately 60 percent resulted in complications that required medical treatment in a health facility.
  • An estimated one-third of the women who experienced complications from an abortion did not receive the medical treatment they needed.

mozambiqueAn ongoing audit into Mozambique‘s massive undisclosed debt — a scandal that saw the International Monetary Fund cut off aid to the country — has now come knocking at the door of former president Armando Guebuza.

According to Bloomberg, the attorney general wrote to the country’s banks requesting account information about Guebuza and 17 other people, though what that means for the former statesman remains unclear.

Guebuza ruled Mozambique from 2005 to 2015, when his former finance minister Filipe Nyusi succeeded him as the successful Frelimo candidate in the country’s general election.

Recommended reading:

  • This story from Madagascar on a subsistence farmer who was denied a visa to travel to the UK, where he planned to speak at the Rio Tinto AGM to expose the “devastating impact” the company’s mines have had on on his community.
  • This Buzzfeed piece from Tanzania on the country’s LGBT community, which for the last year has faced a troubling crackdown. Health workers fear this could reverse the country’s fight against HIV as key populations go to ground. (Don’t worry. It’s not a listicle.)
  • And this New York Times story out of both Namibia and Botswana, where former US president George Bush the Younger traveled last week to tout the successes of his Aids relief programme, Pepfar — and his fight to preserve the “best part of his legacy” at a time when Trump is going in deep with the budget cutting shears.

October 6 – 12, 2014

malawiMalawi last week sentenced a government official to three years in jail for her part in the Cashgate scandal – the first public servant jailed out of about 50 arrested for their magical abilities to transform public funds into giant piles of cash in their pockets and car boots between 2009 and 2013.

About $30 million worth of it.

According to AFP, the first Cashgate convict is Treza Namathanga Senzani, “the former principal secretary in the tourism ministry, [who] pleaded guilty to stealing $150 000 from state coffers”.

Senzani was arrested last year when she issued two government cheques to her private company, “which according to police never had the provision of goods or services to the government,” reports Malawi24.

And the judge was hardcore on this: no “suspended sentence because you’re a first-time offender” cushion. Instead, Senzani got three years for money laundering and nine months for theft, to be served concurrently. (Not that all Malawians think this was harsh enough.)

As the judge noted in this AFP report, “It was an illegal act that had an impact on the economy.”

A big impact. In the wake of Cashgate, foreign donors announced they would no longer be gracing Malawi with their dollars. To put this in context, the approximately $150 million Malawi received in foreign aid before Cashgate made up a sizeable 40 PERCENT of the national budget.

Senzani’s jailing could be the first step in bringing those donors back.

Last week, Germany said it would fund a $25 million audit into just what happened to all the money – but warned it wouldn’t be signing cheques until the loopholes that allowed Cashgate to happen in the first place were sealed.

zimbabweTechnically, she’s only in the running to lead Zanu-PF’s Women’s League.

But Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe made media waves last week as she travelled around the country on her “Meet the People Tour”.

And Grace – now commonly referred to in the state-owned media as “Dr Mugabe”, what with her being a PhD-prodigy and all – is making her ambitions known. Women’s League? Psh.

“You would see me quiet, a young girl, what did you think I was doing? I was learning,” she said at a rally last week, reports Zimbabwean paper NewsDay. “So what is shocking you today? You made me what I am, I was copying from you. You are not supposed to be shocked, I am seeing a higher post.”

Honestly, though, that’s mild compared to everything else Grace told us about herself last week, like:

  • that she’s all about clean governance
    White people came to me with $10 million to stop the land reform programme. I said to them don’t ever come back to me. I chucked them out of my office and almost spat at their faces. They thought I was a soft target on the programme.”
  • that she’s an avid agriculturalist
    “Nobody will remove me from the farm which I took. Blood will be spilt if anyone attempts to remove me from that farm . . . I took that farm personally because even after I told ministers and government officials that I wanted a farm, they did not allocate me land and instead told me they thought I was joking.”
  • but nobody buys her yoghurt
    “I manufacture yoghurt but no one buys it… You can’t even find a person who can buy a packet of milk.”
  • that she’s kind of a racist
    “A Zimbabwean lady got married to a Chinese national and they had a child. A few weeks later, the child died and the aunt who was mourning kept saying she knew that the child was going to die within a very short period. After some interrogations the aunt said the death of the child was obvious because Chinese products were not durable.”
  • and that she’s basically Lord Varys
    “In fact my spies are too many, even a person seated next you might be my spy so be careful, I know what you are doing.”


mozambiqueIt’s election time in Mozambique on Wednesday, and the news is all about Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the sometime-rebel-but-currently-respectable-opposition-party Renamo. Up until a month or two ago, Dhlakama was still living in the bush, insistent the ruling Frelimo was out to get him and running intermittent skirmishes with government troops.

Now he’s running the show, speaking in front of crowds of thousands. Just read some of the descriptions from this AFP report:

  • “Footage broadcast on national television showed capacity crowds in the coal-rich Tete province where people crowded onto rooftops to see Dhlakama.”
  • “Thousands packed the airport of the second largest city of Beira on Sunday, broke through security cordons and streamed onto the tarmac when his plane landed.”
  • “ ‘I personally thought he was marginalised,’ said Antonio Francisco, a researcher at Mozambique’s Institute for Social and Economic Studies. But ‘he has resuscitated himself politically’ and his campaign is like an ’emotional tsunami’.”

According to the Africa Elections Project, though, the crowds won’t matter: Frelimo is still expected to win.

Mauritius, meanwhile, dissolved its Parliament last week in the run-up to an election to change all elections, reports AFP. At the moment, Mauritians vote for a party, just like in South Africa, and Parliament then decides who will be president. But the Prime Minister’s Labour Party and the opposition Movement Militant Mauricien (MMM) have teamed up with the goal of introducing a bill that would allow for separate presidential elections, like in America.

And two weeks before Botswana goes to the polls, president Ian Khama predicted his ruling Botswana Democratic Party will (again) win by a comfortable margin.

Ten-year-old me is just dying to bring you the latest out of Madagascar, where BABY SPICE IS DOING SUPER IMPORTANT HUMANITARIAN STUFF for Unicef.

The organisation is trying to raise awareness about maternal and newborn tetanus. And to show just how important it is, they brought on Emma Bunton: a woman best known for wearing her hair in pigtails in the late 1990s. (Though she seems to have done away with that look now – check these pics on the Telegraph’s website: angelic humanitarian profile pics for daaays.)

Oh, gods - "Baby Spice meets Mother Theresa" in the top right is just too fantastic.

Oh, gods – “Baby Spice meets Mother Theresa” on the top right. I just can’t.

Look, I’m not judging because, more importantly, Bunton’s using her new global platform to – totally innocently and not at all Publicity Stuntishly – drop hints about a Spice Girls Reunion.

Now that’s news I want to hear.