06 March 2022

Less equal than others: The war in Ukraine shows that “not all armed conflicts are treated with the same lack of resolve that much of the fighting in Africa gets.” Tigray is a case in point. And the bloody war in Cameroon is hardly ever mentioned in the rich world’s media. But of course, Africans are not similar to the Ukrainians, not (only) because African refugees are not (all) “prosperous, middle-class people” and some of them are “obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East or North Africa”, but also because of pure and simple racism.

04 March 2022

Tanzania: 7 months of prison for nothing? Freeman Mbowe, chairman of the Chadema opposition party, accused of terrorism and economic sabotage, has been in jail since July 2021. He was now freed since “the prosecution indicated it had no interest in pursuing charges against him”.
BBC Africa Live 04 March 2022. 9:33

Patriarchy in Kenya: According to the article’s author, the range of factors perpetuating patriarchal attitudes goes from language used by media to reigning stereotypes and traditions. He identifies the obstacles faced by women who want to participate in politics as “inadequate political support from their parties, particularly in the primaries; a lack of financial resources; gender-based violence; gender stereotyping; and patriarchal structures across society.” In pre-election times especially, sexist language prevails. He gives plenty of examples for this. In the 2017 elections, for the first time, women were elected governors (3) and senators (3) – out of 47 senators and 47 governors. The two-thirds gender rule of the 2010 constitution – no more than two thirds of members of elective or appointive bodies should be of the same sex – is still far from being put into practice.

South Africa: Retirees are three times more likely to experience poverty than any other age group – and women are particularly disadvantaged – for them, economic inequality started well prior to retirement (they make up the largest group of low-paid employees, face unequal labour market opportunities, have family care responsibilities). The article presents results of research into poverty of retired women who self-define as poor.

South African Women: Imbodko – “rock” in isiZulu – is a series of books that presents histories of remarkable South African women, histories all too often neglected. The title comes from a chant sung by women liberation fighters which translates to: “You strike women, you strike a rock, you will be crushed! You should be careful!” Interested? To buy: https://jacana.co.za/series/imbokodo-women-who-shape-us-2/?per_page=12

Uganda/Congo-Kinshasa: Reparations practices are growing in international courts. But calculating damages and liabilities is highly controversial, as shown by the recent International Court of Justice ruling that Uganda has to pay 325m USD in reparations to Congo-Kinshasa for serious violations of international law committed during the 1998-2003 in Congo-Kinshasa – much less than the latter had demanded, but still quite a lot & Uganda says it cannot pay the 65m USD annually over the next 5 years. The ICC has no means whatsoever to enforce its ruling or even to verify whether Uganda is paying. An additional potential problem: “If participation in international law practice carries deep financial risks to states, they may be less willing to engage. This could carry risks for the peaceful resolution of disputes.”

World market fertiliser prices: Globally, Russia is the biggest exporter of fertiliser materials including minerals or chemicals such as nitrogen to phosphourous and potassium. Fertiliser prices, already very high, are likely to increase further because of the disruptions caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine. Though sub-Saharan Africa consumes relatively little fertiliser (estimated at 19,9kg of nutrients per cropland ha – well below the 128,7kg of nutrients per cropland ha of developed countries e.g., the US), this will be hard on farmers, especially in countries above the regional averages like South Africa (72.8kg/ha), Zambia (52.5kg/ha).

Mali/Sweden: Sweden has announced that its 220 Minusma soldiers will leave Mali in June 2023, one year earlier than planned. The reason is most likely the presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali.
BBC Africa Live 04 March 2022. 5:30

Plastic pollution: By 2050, unless something is done about it, “there may be more plastic by weight than fish in the ocean” according to a January 2016 WEF-commissioned study. Plastic needs to be reduced throughout its life cycle – from production to disposal. Banning or phasing out single-use plastic products will no doubt be necessary and also more money for waste collection, recycling, development of environmentally benign plastics.