Malawi’s government has accused South Africa of detaining its presidential plane for several hours without any reason. President Lazarus Chakwera was on a state visit on Friday, but his departure was delayed due to security reasons.

President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera:

Malawian authorities say that Chakwera’s advance delegation was initially refused to travel back with the president, citing unspecified security concerns.

This weekend, fugitives Pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary’s escape, sparked rumours that they had fled with the assistance of Chakwera’s staff – a rumour both governments have now refuted.

Malawi’s Foreign Affairs Ministry claims President Chakwera was advised to leave from Waterkloof Airforce Base without his “advance delegation.”

South African authorities failed to provide details for the sudden change in plans; only security concerns.

It says the president was dissatisfied with the vague explanation and refused to leave his team behind. It says while the delegation complied with the amended security concerns, it must be noted that they breached diplomatic protocols.

Chakwera finally left South Africa six hours behind schedule.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also thanked government for clearing the rumours that the state visit was to aid Bushiri escape justice.

Government confirms that the Bushiris’ didn’t hitch a ride on President Lazarus Chakwera’s plane:

Economic Cooperation

South Africa and Malawi signed a renewed Economic Cooperation Agreement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with President Chakwera and members of his cabinet, recommitted to the memorandum of understanding that currently exists between the two countries.

South Africa’s exports to Malawi amounted to approximately R6 billion in 2019, while imports from Malawi were estimated at approximately R1.3 billion.

Chakwera requested that the South African government introduce special permits to his citizens that work locally.

“I want to ask that you allow the special permits to be issued to Malawian migrants employed in the informal sector just as is the case for Zimbabwean and Lesotho (migrants). In the same vein, I would like to ask that Malawians be able to apply for new permits and renew expired ones while in South Africa as a reciprocal arrangement. More broadly, I request your help in simplifying visa extension procedures,” the Malawian president said.