Southern Africa: Pretoria's Relations With New Malawian President Chakwera Get Off On Wrong Foot

A statement by Shepherd Bushiri on the Facebook page of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church.

South Africa's relations with Malawi's new President Lazarus Chakwera have started badly, clouded by suspicions that he helped a fugitive escape South African justice and complaints that Pretoria damaged his dignity by delaying his departure from South Africa.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, elected in June 2020, made his first official visit to South Africa last week, meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa. It all seemed at first to be a success.

But the visit became embroiled in the controversy over the near-simultaneous flight from South Africa of the indicted Malawian TV pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary after they had skipped bail.

Both the Malawian and South African governments have denied media speculation that the multimillionaire Bushiris -- who are believed to have helped bankroll Chakwera's election campaign -- escaped to Malawi on Chakwera's plane.

But Chakwera's flight home has soured relations with Pretoria anyway. On Monday, the Malawian government issued an angry statement complaining that the departure of Chakwera's aircraft from Waterkloof Air Force Base on Friday had been delayed by seven hours, mainly because South African authorities wouldn't allow the Malawian foreign minister and some other officials to board.

The Malawi government said the delay had been caused by...

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