Mozambique Detects Polio Case After Malawi Outbreak

 

Mozambique has detected its first case of wild poliovirus in three decades, following an outbreak in neighbouring Malawi in February, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday.

The case was diagnosed in a child in the northeastern province of Tete, it said.

“The detection of another case of wild poliovirus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi,” WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said.

Poliomyelitis — the medical term for polio — is an acutely infectious and contagious viral disease which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

Wild polioviruses are viruses that occur naturally in the community, and typically spread when the faeces of an infected person contaminate water or food.

Africa was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in August 2020 after no polio cases had occurred on the continent for the previous four years.

However, unvaccinated people are still at risk if the virus enters their country from one of the few places in the world where the disease is still circulating.

The WHO said lab tests showed that the Mozambique case was linked to a strain that had circulated in Pakistan and led to the case reported in Malawi.

The outbreak in Malawi has prompted southern African countries to launch a vaccination blitz.

Malawi and its four immediate neighbours — Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe — plan to immunise 23 million children aged five years or below. Mozambique alone hopes to vaccinate 4.2 million youngsters, the WHO said.

“As long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease,” the UN agency says on its website.

“The poliovirus can easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly amongst unimmunized populations.”

Catholic Priest Among 12 Convicted Over Malawi Albino Murder

 

A Malawi Catholic priest, a policeman and a hospital worker are among a dozen convicted over the 2018 gruesome murder of a man with albinism, a court official said Friday.

Five out of the 12 were found guilty of killing MacDonald Masambuka, 22, at the height of a crime spree that saw over 40 murders and 145 assaults on people with the condition in the country.

The priest, Masambuka’s brother, a policeman and hospital employee were convicted of transacting in human body parts.

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“MacDonald was betrayed by those he had trust in, namely the brother, the priest, the policeman and the clinical officer. These are positions of trust,” the country’s public prosecutions director Steve Kayuni told AFP.

From 2014 Malawi suffered a wave of assaults over several years against albinos whose body parts are used in witchcraft rituals in the mistaken belief that they bring wealth and luck.

In a judgement handed down Thursday, a high court concluded that the 12 plotted to kill Masambuka to extract his bones, hoping to benefit financially.

“This is a violation of the right to human life and the greatest violation of the rights to life and integrity for persons with albinism,” said judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga.

Masambuka was murdered after being enticed by his brother to meet his friends who he claimed had found him a woman to marry.

Sentencing has been set for May 31.

There are around 20 cases under prosecution in Malawi courts involving the murder, attempted murder, exhumation and selling of body tissue of people with albinism, said Kayuni.

Activist and former UN rapporteur on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, said the latest case “points to a serious safety issue for people with albinism in Malawi”.

Malawi Declares Polio Outbreak

Map of Malawi

 

The first wild poliovirus case in Africa in more than five years has been detected in a young child in Malawi, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The Malawian health authorities have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after a case was detected in the capital Lilongwe, the WHO said.

Laboratory analysis showed that the detected strain is linked to one that has been circulating in Sindh Province in Pakistan. Polio remains endemic in Pakistan and its neighbour Afghanistan.

“As an imported case from Pakistan, this detection does not affect the African region’s wild poliovirus-free certification status,” the WHO said.

Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild polio. No polio cases had occurred on the continent for the past four years — the threshold for eradication.

“Following the detection of wild polio in Malawi, we’re taking urgent measures to forestall its potential spread,” the WHO’s Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.

“Thanks to a high level of polio surveillance in the continent and the capacity to quickly detect the virus, we can swiftly launch a rapid response and protect children from the debilitating impact of this disease.”

The WHO said it was supporting Malawi in conducting a risk assessment and outbreak response, including extra vaccination.

Surveillance of the disease is being stepped up in neighbouring countries.

“The last case of wild poliovirus in Africa was identified in northern Nigeria in 2016 and globally there were only five cases in 2021. Any case of wild poliovirus is a significant event and we will mobilise all resources to support the country’s response,” said Dr Modjirom Ndoutabe, the WHO Africa region’s polio coordinator.

Poliomyelitis — the medical term for polio — is an acutely infectious and contagious virus that attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

Poliovirus is typically spread in the faeces of an infected person and is picked up through contaminated water or food. It multiplies in the intestine.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccinating people to prevent them from becoming infected thus breaks the cycle of transmission.

The August 2020 declaration that Africa was free of the virus that causes polio was a landmark in a decades-long campaign to eradicate the notorious disease around the world.

The disease was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa until a major push in recent decades.

In 1996, there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

-AFP

Thousands Without Power As Cyclone Winds Hit Mauritius

Strong winds and pouring rain batter the mauritius coastline in Mahebourg a small fishing village on February 2, 2022. (Photo by Laura MOROSOLI / AFP)

 

Thousands of homes were left without power in Mauritius on Wednesday as powerful cyclone winds battered the Indian Ocean island nation.

Tropical cyclone Batsirai passed within about 130 kilometres (80 miles) of the holiday paradise, bringing heavy downpours and winds of around 120 kilometres per hour, with a peak of 151 kilometres per hour recorded in the capital Port Louis.

Life was brought to a standstill, with public transport cancelled, shops and banks shut, and air and sea travel halted.

At least 7,500 homes were without power after the winds knocked down trees onto electricity lines, according to the local electricity board. The telephone network was also disrupted.

The reopening of schools, closed since November because of the spread of the Covid variant Omicron, could not take place as planned.

“Cyclonic conditions will persist on the island until late evening,” said a statement from the weather service.

The French island of Reunion, which lies about 230 kilometres southwest of Mauritius, was on red alert for the likely passage of cyclone Batsirai overnight.

In 2007, two people were killed in Mauritius and nine hurt in Reunion when a cyclone hit the islands.

Tropical storms and torrential rains have also wreaked havoc in southern Africa in recent days, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Tropical Storm Ana claimed the lives of 86 people in Mozambique, Madagascar and Malawi last week.

Malawi President Warns Cabinet Against Corruption

File photo of Malawi Presidential Lazarus Chakwera. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP.

 

Malawi’s new government was sworn in on Sunday after President Lazarus Chakwera’s surprise sacking of seven ministers last week over graft concerns, warning them to shun corruption

“Do not accept a gift in exchange for using your office to give someone preferential treatment in the administration of a public service,” Chakwera said at the swearing-in ceremony. “That is corruption.”

Civic and religious groups had pressured the president to rein in his cabinet after a number of his ministers were embroiled in corruption scandals.

In December, then minister of lands Kezzie Msukwa was arrested on allegations that he had received a bribe from a wealthy businessman to give him land.

Chakwera, elected in 2020 on a campaign to fight corruption in the poor southern African country, sacked his entire 33-member cabinet last Monday.

READ ALSO: African Union Suspends Burkina Faso After Coup

But most were reappointed two days later, and the new lineup includes only two new faces.

Chakwera named prominent businessman and politician Mark Katsonga Phiri to the trade ministry, while ruling party loyalist Sam Kawale takes over as lands minister, replacing Msukwa.

“If you do not follow the law, the law will follow you,” Chakwera said Sunday. “And if you think that I will use my office to save you from facing a law you have broken, then you are gravely mistaken.”

In early December, Malawi police arrested a former finance minister and an ex-central bank chief for fabricating figures in a bid to impress the International Monetary Fund.

Joseph Mwanamveka and Reserve Bank of Malawi former governor Dalitso Kabambe were accused of cooking the books to secure a loan from the Washington-based development and crisis lender.

Tropical Storm Ana Kills 70 Persons In Southern Africa

Scene shot from video showing aftermath of the storm on a community in Malawi.

 

The death toll from a storm that struck three southern African countries rose to 70 on Thursday as emergency teams battled to repair damaged infrastructure and help tens of thousands of victims.

Packing torrential rains, Tropical Storm Ana made landfall Monday in Madagascar before ploughing into Mozambique and Malawi.

Rescue workers and authorities across the three countries were still assessing the full extent of the damage.

Madagascar has reported 41 dead, with 18 others killed in Mozambique and 11 in Malawi.

Remnants of the storm have passed over Zimbabwe, but no deaths have been reported there.

In the three hardest-hit countries, tens of thousands of homes were damaged. Some collapsed under the heavy rain, trapping victims in the rubble.

READ ALSO: US Ships Nearly 1.7 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Uganda

Bridges were washed away by swollen rivers, while livestock drowned and submerged fields, destroying the livelihoods of rural families.

In Madagascar, 110,000 had to flee their homes. In the capital Antananarivo, schools and gyms were turned into emergency shelters.

“We only brought our most important possessions,” Berthine Razafiarisoa, who sheltered in a gym with his family of 10, told AFP.

In northern and central Mozambique, Ana destroyed 10,000 homes, dozens of schools and hospitals, and downed power lines.

Mozambique’s weather service expects another storm to form over the Indian Ocean in the coming days. Up to six tropical cyclones are expected before the rainy season ends in March.

In neighbouring Malawi, the government declared a state of natural disaster.

Most of the country lost electricity early in the week, after flood waters hit generating stations. Power was restored by Thursday in parts of the country, but parts of the electric grid were destroyed.

“Our priority now is restoring power to health establishments, water treatment distribution systems, and schools,” the national power utility said in a statement.

Southern Africa, and especially Mozambique, has suffered repeated destructive storms in recent years.

AFP

70 Dead From Tropical Storm Ana In Southern Africa

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel.
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel.

 

The death toll from a storm that struck three southern African countries rose to 70 on Thursday as emergency teams battled to repair damaged infrastructure and help tens of thousands of victims.

Packing torrential rains, Tropical Storm Ana made landfall Monday in Madagascar before ploughing into Mozambique and Malawi.

Rescue workers and authorities across the three countries were still assessing the full extent of the damage.

Madagascar has reported 41 dead, with 18 others killed in Mozambique and 11 in Malawi.

Remnants of the storm have passed over Zimbabwe, but no deaths have been reported there.

In the three hardest-hit countries, tens of thousands of homes were damaged. Some collapsed under the heavy rain, trapping victims in the rubble.

Bridges were washed away by swollen rivers, while livestock drowned and submerged fields, destroying the livelihoods of rural families.

In Madagascar, 110,000 had to flee their homes. In the capital Antananarivo, schools and gyms were turned into emergency shelters.

READ ALSO: US Ships Nearly 1.7 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Uganda

“We only brought our most important possessions,” Berthine Razafiarisoa, who sheltered in a gym with his family of 10, told AFP.

In northern and central Mozambique, Ana destroyed 10,000 homes, dozens of schools and hospitals, and downed power lines.

Mozambique’s weather service expects another storm to form over the Indian Ocean in the coming days. Up to six tropical cyclones are expected before the rainy season ends in March.

In neighbouring Malawi, the government declared a state of natural disaster.

Most of the country lost electricity early in the week, after flood waters hit generating stations. Power was restored by Thursday in parts of the country, but parts of the electric grid were destroyed.

“Our priority now is restoring power to health establishments, water treatment distribution systems, and schools,” the national power utility said in a statement.

Southern Africa, and especially Mozambique, has suffered repeated destructive storms in recent years.

Malawi Leader Names New Cabinet

Map of Malawi

 

 

After suddenly firing all his ministers over graft concerns, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera reappointed most of them to a new cabinet on Wednesday.

Chakwera sacked his entire 33-member cabinet on Monday, vowing to “confront all forms of lawless conduct by public officials”.

However, a list of 12 ministerial appointments released by his office just after midnight on Wednesday includes only two new faces. Well-known businessman and politician Mark Katsonga Phiri becomes trade minister while ruling party loyalist Sam Kawale takes over as lands minister.

Kawale replaces Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month for bribery.

Key portfolios such as finance, defence and foreign affairs are yet to be announced.

Barely two years since he took office, Chakwera has come under pressure from civic and religious groups to rein in his cabinet, after a number of his ministers were embroiled in corruption scandals.

His decision to sack the entire government followed meetings last week with the influential Episcopal Conference of Malawi and the Public Affairs Committee, which comprise church groups serving as a government watchdog.

The organisations expressed concern over the president’s indecisiveness in fighting corruption.

Chakwera won the 2020 presidential election on a campaign to fight corruption in his poor southern African country.

In December 2021, a corruption probe saw Malawi’s former finance minister and an ex-central bank governor arrested on allegations they manipulated accounts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund.

Tropical Storm Kills 46 In Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi

People walk through flood water after several houses were affected by rising water following heavy rains in 67 Hectares neighbourhood in Antananarivo on January 24, 2022. RIJASOLO / AFP
People walk through flood water after several houses were affected by rising water following heavy rains in 67 Hectares neighbourhood in Antananarivo on January 24, 2022. RIJASOLO / AFP

 

Tropical storm Ana has killed at least 46 people in Madagascar, and Mozambique along with Malawi, which lost most of its power because of flooding, authorities in the three countries said Tuesday.

The storm, which formed over the east coast of Africa’s largest island Madagascar, has brought heavy rains causing flooding and mudslides in the capital Antananarivo.

The latest report from Madagascar’s disaster management agency on Tuesday showed that 39 people have died and nearly 65,000 have been left homeless since last week.

READ ALSO: Malawi President Fires Cabinet Over Graft Concerns

Several low-lying districts of the capital remain under high alert and emergency evacuations were launched overnight.

“We are in the process of evacuating people from flooded areas,” John Razafimandimby, rescue unit director in the disaster management agency, told AFP.

After crossing the Indian Ocean, the storm made landfall on mainland Africa on Monday bringing heavy rains and strong winds in Mozambique’s central and northern districts.

Mozambican officials on Tuesday said three people were killed, with at least 49 injured in the province of Zambezia.

More than half a million people have been affected in Zambezia as well as Nampula and Sofala provinces, according to the Mozambican government and UN agencies.

The National Institute for Disaster Risk Management said a clinic and 16 school classrooms were destroyed overnight.

The UN forecasts the storm will cause widespread flooding, displace people and damage infrastructure.

The storm will potentially affect “highly vulnerable populations who have already suffered from previous natural disasters and conflict in northern Mozambique,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an update.

Four people died in neighbouring Malawi, where the storm plunged most parts of the country into darkness overnight after flash floods raised the water levels, forcing the electric company to shut down its generators.

“Our generation depends on water levels, and currently the levels are too high for us to run the machines. It is too risky,” Moses Gwaza, spokesman for the Electricity Generation Company, told AFP.

In an update on Tuesday morning, the company said it was starting to restore power generation.

The Mozambican Meteorological Institute forecasts between four and six cyclones in the region during the current rainy season, which ends in late March.

AFP

Malawi President Fires Cabinet Over Graft Concerns

Lazarus Chakwera
In this file photo taken on June 20, 2020, Malawi’s Lazarus Chakwera arrives at Mtandire locations in the suburb of the capital Lilongwe to hold his final rally.  AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP

 

 

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera on Monday sacked his entire cabinet over graft concerns, vowing to “confront all forms of lawless conduct by public officials”.

“I have dissolved my entire cabinet effective immediately, and all the functions of cabinet revert to my office until I announce a reconfigured cabinet in two days,” Chakwera said in a national address.

He added that the reconfigured cabinet will exclude Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested last month in a bribery case.

“This is to allow him to answer the corruption charges he is facing in court and clear his name there,” Chakwera said.

READ ALSOBurkina Faso President Kabore Arrested By Mutinous Soldiers

The stunning decision follows meetings last week with two influential groups, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi and the Public Affairs Committee, which comprises church groups that act as a government watchdog.

Both groups expressed concern over the president’s indecisiveness in fighting corruption.

ECM, an assembly of Malawi’s Catholic bishops, said authorities must ensure that no one is “pressurised, intimidated, or influenced” in the pursuit for justice.

“Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected,” the bishops said in a statement.

Chakwera won the 2020 elections by campaigning on promises to fight corruption in the poor southern African country.

The land minister’s arrest was the second corruption scandal to erupt in less than a month.

Earlier in December, a corruption probe saw Malawi’s former finance minister and an ex-central bank governor arrested on allegations they manipulated accounts to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund.

AFP

92-Year-Old Malawian Music Legend Finds Fame On Tiktok

Malawian musician Giddes Chalamanda, 92, plays his acoustic Banjo at his home in the Madzuwa Village near Chiradzulu, southern Malawi, on January 13, 2022. At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone. Amos Gumulira / AFP

 

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

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Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

‘Dance Around the World’

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”

Malawi Revive Second Round Hopes With Zimbabwe Win


Malawi’s forward Gabadinho Mhango (C-L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Group B Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Malawi and Zimbabwe at Stade de Kouekong in Bafoussam on January 14, 2022. Pius Utomi EKPEI / AFP

 

Frank Mhango scored twice as Malawi came from behind to defeat Zimbabwe 2-1 on Friday in the Africa Cup of Nations and keep alive their hopes of reaching the second round for the first time.

The forward from South African club Orlando Pirates netted in each half after Ishmael Wadi had put Zimbabwe ahead in a lively Group B match in Bafoussam.

Mhango recently returned to action after a lengthy injury layoff and became only the third player after Cameroonians Vincent Aboubakar (twice) and Karl Toko Ekambi to bag a brace so far in this Cup of Nations.

READ ALSO: [AFCON 2021] Morocco Beat Comoros To Reach Last 16

Guinea and Senegal share the Group B lead with four points each after two rounds of matches, Malawi have three and Zimbabwe are pointless.

Group winners and runners-up qualify automatically for the round of 16, along with the best four third-placed teams.

On Tuesday, Malawi face 2019 runners-up Senegal in Bafoussam while Guinea meet Zimbabwe in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde.

After the presence of Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in the first half of a double-header — a 0-0 draw between Senegal and Guinea — there were no instantly recognisable Malawi or Zimbabwe stars.

Malawi began with five local players, five based in South Africa and one in Mozambique while Zimbabwe had in forward Tino Kadewere from French club Lyon the only starter from a top-five European league.

After a slow start at the 20,000-capacity Stade Omnisport in the western Cameroon highlands, the game burst into life as half-time approached.

Zimbabwe went ahead on 38 minutes when an Onismor Bhasera cross allowed Wadi to score with a perfectly placed looping header that just eluded the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe.

The advantage lasted just five minutes, however, before another cross from the left flank, this time by Francisco Madinga, produced a goal with Mhango poking the ball into the net from close range.

Malawi, who lost injured captain and defender Limbikani Mzava just before the half-hour, left the field at half-time the happier team having survived several scares.

Gerald Takwara and Wadi wasted good close-range chances to break the deadlock in the latest episode of a southern Africa rivalry previously dominated by Zimbabwe.

Mhango struck again on 58 minutes to edge the Flames in front, taking advantage of defensive hesitancy by Teenage Hadebe to push the ball past goalkeeper Petros Mhari.

AFP