Malawi tobacco pressured as US butts in over labour abuses | AFP

Malawi’s minister of agriculture Kondwani Nankhumwa says all efforts are being taken to ensure the nation eradicates all forms of child labour, admitting the issue exists in some areas where tobacco is grown. Malawi is being forced to confront child and forced labour practices after the US restricted tobacco imports from the impoverished southeastern African nation over allegations workers including children were being exploited. The trouble began in late October. British law firm Leigh Day announced it was preparing a landmark class action case against British American Tobacco (BAT) on behalf of 2,000 Malawian farmers, including hundreds of children, for forced labour and poverty wages. The US suspended imports of tobacco from Malawi, saying it had information that reasonably indicated it was being produced using forced labour and forced child labour.

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Prince Harry lays wreath for soldier killed in Malawi elephant attack | AFP

Prince Harry lays a wreath at Liwonde National Park in Malawi in honour of British soldier Mathew Talbot. The guardsman was killed by an elephant in May while training Malawian rangers in anti-poaching techniques. Prince Harry is in the middle of a tour of southern African nations. IMAGES

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Reactions in Zomba after Malawi top court outlaws single-use plastic | AFP

Residents of Zomba in Malawi react after Wednesday’s ruling in favour of a ban on plastic, upholding a 2015 government bar on producing, distributing and importing thin single-use plastics typically used in packaging and wrapping.

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Malawi: albino busker becomes internationally acclaimed musician | AFP

From a street busker in Malawi, albino singer Lazarus Chigwandali– born to a poor family in rural Malawi– becomes an internationally acclaimed musician.

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Political protests in Malawi turn violent | AFP

Thousands of opposition supporters participate in demonstrations in Lilongwe, demanding the immediate resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah. Some police officers were severely injured after being beaten up minutes after an armoured vehicle threatened the protesters at Capital Hill. IMAGES

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Malawi opposition party march on court, seeking election annulment | AFP

Members of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), led by their president Lazarus Chakwera, march to the constitutional court in Lilongwe, as their lawyers continue to fight for the country’s May 21 presidential election results to be nullified because of “many irregularities.” IMAGES

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Inauguration of Malawi president Peter Mutharika | AFP

After being sworn-in on Tuesday, Malawi President Peter Mutharika is inaugurated at a sports stadium in the commercial capital Blantyre. IMAGES

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Mozambique Is Struggling To Recover From Cyclone Idai (HBO)

BEIRA, Mozambique — Hundreds of thousands of people are still without food, clean water or homes almost two weeks after Cyclone Idai tore through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing at least 700 people and impacting millions more.

Now, the first outbreak of cholera has been reported, sparking fears that this disaster recovery will soon become a long-term health emergency.

The cyclone hit the port city of Beira at midnight on March 14, bringing winds of 125mph and torrential storms that burst the banks of two major rivers and flooded an area covering more than 1,600 square miles.

A major international aid operation is now underway in Beira as waters begin to recede. But villagers in the hardest hit communities remain stranded while relief efforts struggle to reach them on roads decimated in the disaster. A lack of helicopters in the country has further hobbled response efforts.

More than 100,000 people are now living in refugee camps. Many others are taking shelter in schools, churches and orphanages; their over-crowded temporary homes surrounded by pools of putrid flood water, which some are still using to drink and wash.

Ignasio Augusto’s home, in the coastal village of Praia Nova, was decimated by the storm.

“Nothing is left. The house fell down,” Ignasio said.

He’s now sheltering with his family, packed alongside hundreds of others, in an elementary school which was itself partially destroyed by the winds.

“This is how we sleep,” he said, pointing to the small plot of floor his family now occupies. “On sleeping bags, on the pavement. Women and men together,” Ignasio said.

The cyclone’s destruction is breathtaking: Whole towns are flooded, roads are blocked by mud and bridges are ruined. The destruction stretches as far inland as Gôndola, more than 120 miles from the epicenter of the crisis.

Even this far from the eye of the storm, the rains have made access slow or impossible. An aid team attempting to survey the damage using drones was stricken by mud during our journey. It took four hours of digging by men from a nearby town to free their 4×4 from the water.

Only in the past few days has it become possible to pass — slowly — along the battered road to Beira Airport, which has become the makeshift headquarters of the international aid operation.

Villagers here are facing the same problems as the hardest hit communities on the coast: food is not being delivered; supplies are not reaching them fast enough.

Gerald Bourke, from the United Nations World Food Programme, told VICE News that despite the obstacles, the recovery is slowly coming together.

“It’s gathering pace, but we need to do a lot more and we need to accelerate,” he said.

But it could take several months to establish the true death toll and longer term impact of this storm on crops and food supplies. For now, the priority remains survival.

“It has been difficult to get out there. You have communities who have been isolated for a long time. The full dimensions of it have yet to become clear.”

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Cyclone, flooding wreak havoc in Southern Africa

Hundreds are dead, many more missing and thousands at risk from massive flooding in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe caused by Cyclone Idai and persistent rains. (March 19)

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Football juggling skills impress Trump

Video clips of a Tanzanian football juggler, Hadhara Charles Mnjeja, have gone viral prompting US president Donald Trump to post a tweet. The 29 year-old footballer is in Malawi until March, where she is earning a living through street performance, charging up to US$5 for a two minute performance.

Malawi: former President Banda presents candidacy for May vote

Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda states her intention to run as candidate in the country’s elections this May. She has chosen Jerry Jana, former Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as her running mate. IMAGES of Joyce Banda at the Malawi Electoral Commission

Receding Malawi lake exposes cost of climate change

Lake Chilwa in Malawi is drying up, and the around 7,000 people who live around it and who rely heavily on it for their livelihood are now finding themselves looking desperately for an alternative income. The lake’s water levels have been receding for the past 10 years due to increasing temperatures as a result of climate change.

UNICEF uses drones to help tackle cholera in Malawi

UNICEF in Malawi has embarked on a drone mapping exercise to help communities tackle cholera, which broke out in the country during the rainy season two months ago. The NGO is using drones to map densely populated areas and collect data that can be used to identify potential transmission hotspots and provide people with correct information.

Cheetahs being reintroduced to Malawi national park

Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi, is re-introducing new cheetahs to the park as part of a conservation programme to restore the national park. It now boasts a total of 14 cheetahs. Four cheetahs – two females and two males – were introduced to the park about five months ago and three others, arrived two weeks ago donated by the Wildlife Trust in South Africa.

Africa Weekly – a round up of news and features from Africa

This week on Africa Weekly, we take you to Malawi where rumours of bloodsucking vampires have led to a rampage, we head to South Africa where gang violence is on the rise, and we go to St Helena, where the uncovered remains of former slaves are being prepared for reburial.FOR SUBSCRIBERS OF AFRICA WEEKLY ONLY