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Malawi polls: Mutharika faces stiff challenge from Chakwera, Chilima

President Mutharika faces his deputy Saulos Chilima and former ruling party’s Lazarus Chikwera

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Malawis President Peter Mutharika

As Malawians go to the polls today, many are regarding the election to be one of the toughest and most unpredictable in the country’s history.

 President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive party (DPP) faces stiff opposition from Lazarus Chakwera, leader of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who is considered the strongest opposition and interestingly, Saulos Chilima, the country’s Vice President who broke away to form the United Transformation Movement (UTM.)

Tuesday’s election comes with its peculiarities in the county. Incumbent President Mutharika faces Vice President Chilima and the strong former ruling party led by Chakwera. More often than not, a president and his/her vice, combine forces during elections to create a formidable team, strong enough to defeat the opposition and remain in power but the Malawian elections are throwing new realities in what analysts say will test the institutions of democracy in the country to see how fair they are.

Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima (C) reacts before delivering a speech during the official launch of their United Transformation Movement (UTM). (Photo by Amos Gumulira / AFP)

President Mutharika handpicked Chilama, an economist, to be his running mate in 2014. Both had been running the affairs of the country together until last year, when Mutharika’s sister in-law, Callista Mutharika, suggested that the president, aged 78, was too old and unfit to seek re-election and that he should make way for his 46-year-old deputy.

Many believe that this was one of the reasons Chilama considered when he decided to break away to form the United Transformation Movement (UTM).

Since after breaking away, Chilama seems to have been using his relative youthfulness to his advantage as his campaign promises have attracted the attention of people between the ages of 18 and 34, a demographic that makes up about 54% of Malawi’s registered voters.

Amongst several other issues, Malawi under Mutharika has been battling unemployment. Chilama has promised to find a lasting solution to this issue, but has been accused of telling people what they want to hear in order to score political points, as regards what is realistically obtainable.

At some point, he was quoted to have promised to create one million jobs in his first year in office, should he win the election.

In order to win over the young voters, Chilama’s wife Mary also joined forces with her husband. Mary Chilama rapped and danced in a music video recently, using certain colloquial phrases that young people are familiar with. At certain times, she was seen dressing like the youths and images of her have been used to front campaign adverts targeted at female voters.

In the cause of the entire campaign, there have been accusations and counter-accusations between the president and his vice mainly about electoral fraud. Despite these hot exchanges, the campaigns have been largely peaceful.

Malawi’s next president will be elected by way of First-past-the-post system (FPTP), otherwise known as ‘winner takes all’, so there will be no second round. The whole of Africa and the world will be watching see how this goes.

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Zimbabwe Swears In Frederick Shava as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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Frederick Shava, Zimbabwe’s former Minister of State for Political Affairs, who was implicated in the Willowgate scandal, has been sworn in as the country’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The swearing-in held at the State House in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital on Tuesday.

Shava, who has held various portfolios in government since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in February, following the death of Sibusiso Moyo, who succumbed to COVID-19 related complications in January.

He previously served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China before he was appointed as permanent representative to the United Nations.

His appointment is one of several key cabinet appointments made last month by Mnangagwa, following the deaths of three cabinet ministers from COVID-19.

Last month, Tapiwa Mhona was sworn in as Transport Minister and Infrastructure Development, replacing late Biggie Matiza, while Nokhuthula Matsikenyeri was sworn in as Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Manicaland Province, replacing Ellen Gwaradzimba.

Shava’s appointment has been criticised in Zimbabwe over his implication and subsequent conviction, in the early 1980s, for corruptly buying vehicles from the state-owned Willowvale Motor Industries before reselling them at double the market value in a scandal named Willowgate.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison but was acquitted by the then-President, Robert Mugabe, after spending only one night in jail.

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West Africa Politics

ECOWAS Parliament Backs Mali’s Transition to Democracy

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The ECOWAS Parliament has pledged to support the people of Mali people as their country embarks on transition to democratic rule.

Speaker of the parliament Sidie Mohamed Tunis offered this assurance on behalf of the sub-regional congress when he led a parliamentary mission to Mali as part of activities of the sub-regional lawmakers to support the West African country.

The speaker also stressed that the legislative body recognised the National Transitional Council (CNT), the body set up at the beginning of December and entrusted with legislative power.

The parliamentary mission was mooted by the speaker during his opening speech at the January Virtual Ordinary Session of the parliament.

Specifically meant to support the transition process, the mission was in line with the relevant decisions of the Special Meeting on Mali, of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, held in September 2020 in Accra.

Speaking after a meeting with the First Deputy Speaker of the CNT, Mr Assarid Imbarkawane, Tunis said: “We are here to hold parliamentary discussions with the Speaker and the CNT all geared towards giving the support to the Malian people.

“As members of ECOWAS Parliament, we recognise the CNT and it is in the interest of the Malian people that we work with them, advise them, and give whatever support that they need.

“We had very frank discussions and we were able to give some advice on how we can continue to have peace and stability in Mali.

The speaker added that as part of the mission, members of the sub-regional parliament would hold further discussions with the CNT as well as lawmakers who had been posted to ECOWAS.

“Between now and the time for the elections, the ECOWAS Parliament will continue to engage them to ensure that we all go by the rules, to ensure inclusive dialogue that will bring all political players on board.

“So that at the end of the day when we have the elections, it would be acceptable to everybody,” he said.

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East Africa Politics News

Uganda’s Bobi Wine in Trouble over Armoured SUV

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Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) and the National Unity Party (NUP) presidential candidate in the January 14, 2021 election, Bobi Wine, are headed for a collision over an alleged bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser in his possession.

The URA, which is recalling the vehicle, says the details of the bullet-proof had been misrepresented and thus undervalued.

However, Bobi Wine, a former reggae artiste whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has refused to hand over the vehicle, saying the recall has no constitutional backing.

Quoting section 236 (d) of the EAC Customs Management Act, the 38-year-old said though the URA has the powers to examine goods, it does not have automatic powers to reexamine goods which were in its “custody (warehouse), were examined, assessed for tax, the tax fully paid and the goods released to the owner/taxpayer.”

The vehicle was originally imported and registered in Kenya last year and then re-imported to Uganda through the Busia border.

In a post on 21 February, Kyagulanyi said that the Toyota Land Cruiser had been donated to him by his friends and supporters in Uganda and abroad.

News Central reports that Bobi Wine lost the presidential to incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni. After the Constitutional Cout confirmed Museveni for a 6th term in office, Wine had challenged the results but withdrew the lawsuit citing judges bias.

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