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Malawi’s ex-president Banda to return after four-year exile
28 April 2018, 9:36 AM

Malawi’s former president, Joyce Banda is expected to fly home on Saturday after four years of self-imposed exile, despite facing the threat of arrest over corruption allegations.

Banda fled the country in 2014 when she lost power after being embroiled in the so-called Cashgate scandal, in which government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money.

Banda — only the second woman to lead a country in Africa — is due to land at Chileka International Airport outside Blantyre, the country’s economic capital, at midday (1000 GMT) on a flight from Johannesburg.

Her spokesman Andekunye Chanthunya said she would head straight to her home at Domasi in Zomba, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) away.

Local media have reported a possible deal between President Peter Mutharika and Banda ahead of next year’s elections.

Banda founded the People’s Party (PP) in 2011 after splitting from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is led by Mutharika.

“We will hear what her thoughts are on Sunday when she will address a political rally,” Chanthunya told AFP.

“She remains the head of the PP. The question of whether she wants to contest for the presidency or not will be answered in due course, but we may get an idea of how she is thinking.”

– Government coffers emptied –

Police spokesman James Kaledzera declined to say if Banda would be arrested, though he confirmed that a warrant issued last July remained valid.

Earlier this year, the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said it had no solid evidence against the former president, partially clearing her name.

The “Cashgate” scandal prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid worth around $150 million.

Ministers, civil servants and businessmen are accused of pocketing money from government coffers through ghost companies which did not provide any services to the state.

The biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history helped push Banda out of power in the 2014 election, and Mutharika vowed to clean up the system to bring donors back.

The graft started in 2005, and more than $30 million was looted within only six months in 2013 shortly before it was uncovered, according to an independent audit.

Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and aid-dependent countries, will hold presidential, parliamentary and council elections in May 2019.

Banda came to power in 2012 when Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president’s brother, died in office.

She has spent much of her time abroad in the United States and her return has been postponed several times, most recently last year when the arrest warrant was issued.

Political analyst Henry Chingaipe said her influence was uncertain and she could struggle to play a major role in the elections.

“If she is coming home just to live, OK. But if she is coming to contest for the presidency, her party is in tatters,” he told AFP.

“The decision to leave the country for so long eroded trust in her leadership.”The World Bank resumed aid to Malawi in May last year, providing an $80 million package and saying the country had “taken some very important reform steps”.

Makhura issues stern warning for racists
28 April 2018, 8:39 AM

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has reacted angrily to the incident targeting MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi.

A group of white people hung a life-size doll dressed in an African National Congress (ANC) T-shirt and a picture of Lesufi, on a tree outside the offices of the Basic Education Department in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The life sized doll had on it, a placard accusing Lesufi of raping Afrikaans.

Makhura was addressing hundreds of people at the Khutsong Stadium in Carletonville on the West rand as part of Freedom Day celebrations.

He had a strong warning for racists in the province.

“On the freedom day therefore I can’t speak about the most offensive assault by a group of racists on the MEC of Education in our province, MEC Panyaza Lesufi. That was the most offensive racist assault on him. The racist, have had a good time for the past 24 years so we are coming for them,” says Makhura.

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Hanekom calls for flexibility on visas to grow tourism
26 April 2018, 10:20 AM

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says South Africa must relax its visa requirements to enable tourism to grow and make a significant contribution to the country’s GDP.

He says he has started to engage with his Home Affairs counterpart Malusi Gigaba to discuss putting the country’s visa regime back on the agenda.

“That is the subject of discussion between me and the Minister of Home Affairs to relax some of the visa requirements. We have ample lessons that when it’s easier to get visas, the results are quite good. In 2016, we relaxed the visa requirements for Russia; in fact it was a visa waiver. In 2017, Russian tourists to South Africa grew by 5%,” says Hanekom.



DA wants De Lille to explain why she shouldn’t be fired
26 April 2018, 9:06 AM

The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s second Deputy Chairperson of the Federal Council, Natasha Mazzone says the party will write Patricia de Lille a letter inviting her to explain why she should not be fired.

This is after DA councillors voted to in favour to remove her as the Mayor of the City of Cape Town

The DA has hit back at beleaguered De Lille for alleging that she was being unfairly treated with regards to the processes the party was using against her.

De Lille is set to make representations to the party’s Federal Executive, after the DA’s caucus in the City Council voted for her removal.

She has been at loggerheads with the organisation over governance issues in the council and she currently faces a disciplinary hearing on charges of misconduct.

Mazzone says De Lille’s recent conduct has made it impossible for councillors in Cape Town to fulfil their duties.

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Roma will believe in repeat miracle, says Liverpool’s Wijnaldum
25 April 2018, 6:06 PM

Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum fears Roma’s two late goals in their 5-2 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat will give the Italian side confidence they can repeat their miracle comeback against Barcelona.

Jurgen Klopp’s team, inspired by their Egyptian goal scoring star Mohammed Salah, stormed into a 5-0 lead on Tuesday but Roma grabbed two away goals late on.

Wijnaldum belives Liverpool, who beat Premier League champions Manchester City 5-1 in the last eight, have the quality to complete the job and reach the Champions League final.

However, the 27-year-old Dutch international is aware of how Roma produced one of the biggest shocks in recent years by overhauling Barcelona’s 4-1 first-leg lead in the quarter-finals, winning 3-0 to progress on away goals.

“We know we can score goals but we have to do it there and we must try not to concede because that will give them more confidence,” says Wijnaldum.

“I think those two goals have given them much more encouragement because their last result against Barcelona was 4-1 and they scored three goals at home so that will give them confidence.

“We also know what happened there so we have to be aware that it doesn’t happen to us. But our last game against City (first leg) was 3-0 and we were all satisfied and it is the same situation we are all in now.”

Roma host Liverpool in the second leg next Wednesday, with the Italians bidding to reach their first European Cup final since they lost on penalties to the same opponents in the 1984 final.

Liverpool, who have won five European Cups in their illustrious history, have not been in the final since AC Milan defeated them in 2007.



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