From Malawi and Tanzania to Angola and across southern Africa, KRISTEN VAN SCHIE brings you a weekly round-up of news making regional waves.
Tanzania 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.
Lissu was arrested three days later at Julius Nyerere International Airport in the capital Dar Es Salaam.
A police spokesperson told AP that 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.
Government spokesman Hassan Abbas’ response? “The government will not accept that someone, or a group of people, abuse the freedom of expression”.
Five 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 neighbouring Zambia at a time when the El Niño-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”.
Lawmakers 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 that 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. DM
Photo: Tanzania’s then President elect John Pombe Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party’s sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Sadi Said.