Alex Duval Smith

Alex Duval Smith is a freelance foreign correspondent based in South Africa

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Sierra Leone denies film's corruption claims

The Sierra Leone government held crisis meetings last week after undercover film-makers claimed to have exposed a chain of corruption and deceit linked to illegal logging which is destroying the west African country's environment.

Desmond Tutu: 'It is insulting to all South Africans to be asked to stomach legislation that could be used to outlaw whistle-blowing and investigative journalism'

Critics condemn new South African secrecy law

South African MPs yesterday passed a secrecy law that critics say harks back to apartheid legislation, criminalises investigative journalism and could be used to conceal corruption.

Alex Duval Smith: Self-styled spokesman for the poor will be back

For now, he would be happy to be premier of Limpopo Province and to concentrate on getting rich
Julius Malema is very popular among the poor and can pick up his political career later

Zuma casts out firebrand Malema with shock suspension from ANC

Leader of youth wing hits out after being handed five-year ban for bringing party into disrepute

President Jacob Zuma in leopard skin

Zulus urged to change spots to save leopards

If new, cheap fake fur takes off in South Africa, decline of endangered cats could be halted

Obituary: Gnassingbe Eyadema

Long-serving President of Togo

Our Woman In Paris: Ectoplasm ain't what it used to be

The fact that Parisians refer to the Phantom of the Opera by his real name, Erik, says it all. Fairies are out of fashion, levitation has fallen flat and ectoplasm is not emanating from mediums like it used to. In this era, in which ghosts have a negative effect on property prices, it is years since anyone admitted to attending a good séance.

Our Woman In Paris: A giant leap for the city's new icon

Her image is plastered around every Métro station in town, but the identity of the athlete chosen to adorn the official poster for the World Athletics Championships, which start this Saturday in Paris, has until recently remained a mystery.

Film: The liar king of Zaire

Lethal Weapon IV is most South Africans' idea of a good night out. So why are they fighting to see a documentary about a dead president? By Alex Duval Smith

Frontline Lagos: Taking the negotiation out of aviation

LAGOS AIRPORT is one of the world's least favourite places for airlines. It was never worse than earlier this year when it had its first aircraft hold-up. A Kenya Airways jet, taxiing to take-off, was blocked by bandits who opened a hatch and carried away baggage as crew and passengers looked down in disbelief.
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Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?