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Malawi opposition leader takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others

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Lazarus Chakwera takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

Malawi opposition chief, Lazarus Chakwera, has been sworn in as a member of the country’s parliament. The swearing in took place in the capital Lilongwe following the May 21 elections, local media in Malawi reported on Monday.

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others, while other lawmakers were scheduled to be sworn in today.

According to The Nation newspaper, Chakwera “took his oath of allegiance and office … amid cheers from scores of party supporters who accompanied him.”

Chakwera’s party, the MCP is currently challenging the official result of the presidential vote which saw incumbent Peter Mutharika win a second and final term in office whiles Chakwera came second.

The Malawian electoral system make provision for persons contesting for presidency and vice presidency to simultaneously contest for parliamentary seats.

 On the other hand, the incumbent vice president Saulos Chilima, who also contested in the presidential election, lost his parliamentary bid.

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Buthelezi steps down after 44 years as Inkatha Freedom Party leader

He was to some the embodiment of the Zulu spirit and for years was defined by his rivalry with the ruling party.

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Buthelezi steps down after 44 years as Inkatha Freedom Party leader
Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi waves to the crowd. The veteran Zulu nationalist stepped down as Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader on Saturday after 44 years. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, head of the once-feared Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), on Saturday stepped down as party leader after 44 years.

Buthelezi, 90 led the party from its inception, a reign marked by bloody territorial battles with ANC supporters in black townships during the 1980s and 1990s that left thousands dead.

As prime minister of the “independent” homeland of KwaZulu, a political creation of the apartheid government, Buthelezi was often regarded as an ally of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime.

He was dogged by allegations that he collaborated with the old government to fuel violence to derail the ANC’s liberation struggle – a claim he furiously denied.

“I will not stand for re-election,” he told a congress of his party meeting in the town of Ulundi, north of Durban to elect new leadership.

“My time as president of IFP is finished, I am handing over the baton this afternoon,” he told delegates making reference to a “long” and “difficult” journey he has travelled.

“It was not my own decision to remain as party president for many years, but (we are) democrats, when my party unanimously asked me to lead, I accepted,” he said. 

Buthelezi was a minister in the ANC-led government between 1994 and 2004.

Born of royal blood, he was to some the embodiment of the Zulu spirit and for years was defined by his bitter rivalry with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), a party that was his political home until he broke away to form the IFP in 1975.

Buthelezi, who turns 91 on Tuesday, is the oldest-serving lawmaker in South Africa’s parliament.

He is also listed in the Guinness World Records as having made the longest speech to a legislative assembly with an address in March 1993 over 11 days, with an average of two-and-a-half hours each day.

On Saturday, he spoke for nearly two hours.

The IFP draws its support base from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Zulus, and the party was formed as a cultural organisation.

In the first non-racial elections in 1994, the IFP won 43 seats – but its showing dwindled to just 14 seats in the last vote in May.

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North Africa Politics

Nabil Karoui arrested in Tunisia for money laundering

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Tunisian authorities arrested presidential candidate and media mogul, Nabil Karoui for alleged money laundering, his party said, hours after his channel was banned from covering campaigns.

“About 15 police cars blocked the road and rushed to Nabil Karoui’s car before armed civilian police asked him to come with them, saying they had instructions to arrest him,” said Oussama Khlifi of the mogul’s Qalb Tounes party.

Private radio station Mosaique FM quoted a judicial official Friday confirming that an arrest warrant had been issued against Karoui and his brother Ghazi for money laundering.

Authorities did not immediately confirm his arrest.

Tunisia has been seen as a rare success story among nations that underwent the Arab Spring uprisings, emerging as a nascent democracy.

Karoui was among 26 presidential candidates given preliminary approval this month to run in the election, set for September 15.  

The tycoon was charged with money laundering in early July shortly after stating his intention to stand in the polls, but has remained a leading candidate.

His apparent arrest came the same day as authorities announced a ban on three local outlets — including Karoui’s Nessma TV — from reporting on the election campaign, after they had broadcast “illegally” without licenses. 

Karoui has been accused by regulators and some politicians of using Nessma to bolster his political ambitions. 

The station, launched in 2007, has played up his charity work with footage of him handing out food and clothing. 

He was nearly removed from the race in June when parliament passed an amended electoral code that would bar any candidate who handed out “favours in cash or in kind” in the year before the vote.

But then-president Beji Caid Essebsi neither rejected nor enacted the bill, leaving the door open for Karoui to run.

The polls were brought forward from November, following Essebsi’s death last month.

Karoui had been an active supporter of Essebsi’s election in 2014 and has become the fiercest rival of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who is also running for president.

He formally stepped down from Nessma’s management after being criticised by international observers for his channel’s partisan conduct during the 2014 campaign, and officially joined Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes party in 2016.

But he subsequently made no secret of continuing to pull the strings at Nessma, while honing his political profile.   

Tunisia’s broadcasting authorities banned Nessma in October 2018, but it did not comply and remains on air.

The regulator accuses the channel of “positioning itself to influence government bodies”, and rebuked it for not having disclosed its shareholders — reportedly including Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi. 

Karoui has said he is being targeted by “attempts to undermine his growing popularity”.

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Court in South Africa bans display of apartheid-era flag

Judge Phineas Mojapelo said in Johannesburg that any gratuitous display of the old flag was “racist and discriminatory”

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Court in South Africa bans display of apartheid-era flag

In a landmark ruling, a Johannesburg court has barred the unjustified display of South Africa’s apartheid-era national flag, saying such gestures amounted to “hate speech” and “harassment”.

Judge Phineas Mojapelo said in Johannesburg that any gratuitous display of the old flag was “racist and discriminatory”.

“It demonstrates a clear intention to be hurtful, to be harmful and incite harm and it in fact promotes and propagates hatred against black people… it constitutes hate speech”.

The ruling followed a petition to the court by the Nelson Mandela Foundation Trust after the flag was displayed in October 2017 by white South Africans protesting at the murders of white farmers.

The judge said those who publicly displayed the flag “wish to remind black people of the oppression, humiliation, indignity, demonisation that they moved away from and do not wish to relive.”

The former flag was used from 1928 until 1994 by the Union of South Africa, then a British dominion, and by the Republic of South Africa that succeeded it.

It comprised three stripes of orange, white and blue with three small flags at its centre — the emblems of the Orange Free State, Britain and the South African Republic.

Intertwined with the white-minority regime, it was widely known as the “apartheid flag” before being dumped in 1994 with the advent of democracy and its replacement by a multicolour flag.

Mojapelo, a high court judge presiding over what is called an equality court, said the prohibition was not a blanket ban.

The flag could be displayed for academic or artistic purposes in the public interest, he said.

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