30 April 2022

Rwanda: Paul Rusesabagina’s family has filed a 400m USD lawsuit in the US over his alleged abduction and torture. He was the manager of the Hotel Rwanda thought to have saved 1,200 during the genocide. He later emigrated to the US. And he became a determined enemy of Kigali and Kagame, in 2018 in a video he called for regime change and stated: “the time has come for us to use any means possible to bring about change in Rwanda”. He has been sentenced to 25 years for terrorism by a Rwandan court in 2021.

29 April 2022

Burkina Faso: The life sentence against former head of state Blaise Compaoré has “enormously important symbolic power. It is an important step toward ending the culture of impunity”. Without civil society pressure, the trial would never have happened, that’s true, though the article’s author overstates the importance of Balai Citoyen (which no longer plays a significant role though it was instrumental in the toppling of Blaise Compaoré). Rejoicing in Compaoré’s no longer having a chance to return to Burkina and thus no longer having an interest in destabilising the internal situation by mingling with the security situation may also be premature, seen that the junta that took power on 24th of January is very close to Compaoré & Co. Let us not have wishful thinking guide our analysis.

Tanzania/ Ngorongoro Conservation: The 8,292km2 of Ngorongoro Conservation Area – expansive plains, forests and savanna – are home to such a large number of wildlife that it was made a World Heritage site in 1979. At the creation of the Conservation area in 1959, Maasai pastoralists, who have grazed the area for more than 100 years, were assured permanent land rights including movement rights, residence rights and grazing and cultivation rights. But the Tanzanian government now seems to want to get rid of them – mainly by harassment and restrictions (bans on crop cultivation and limiting access to rivers and rangelands for grazing). But experience from elsewhere shows that if these communities are evicted, it will impoverish them and poaching and human-wildlife conflicts will likely increase. The scientist authors of the article think that the best conservation policy would be “to improve access to education and tackle poverty and unemployment” of these communities, thus slowing population growth and readying some for taking up employment either in local ecosystem management or in other sectors of the economy elsewhere. “(B)iodiversity and poverty eradication programmes can coexist, provided long-term strategies hold.”

Tigray/Ethiopia: Before the war and based on an agricultural strategy focusing on making the land better at retaining water and soil introduced in the 1990s, Tigray had not only improved agricultural yields, but was also at the “forefront of environmental rehabilitation”. But in the war, cut off from alternative supplies for cooking fuel, inhabitants have had no choice but to use firewood, causing loss of vegetation cover which in turn leads to soil erosion and water run-off and lowers yields...

Burundi: Exactly 50 years ago, mass killings began in Burundi on 29 April in 1972 – 300,000 are estimated to have died, mostly Hutus. Survivors are now “asking the government to do more to confront the legacy of the violence.”
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2022. 5:52

Covid vaccine: Another attempt to get Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to share intellectual property has failed. The annual shareholders meetings voted overwhelmingly against such proposals – that they would save lives seems of little import. The proposals had been submitted by Oxfam USA, which owns shares in the pharmaceutical firms.

South Africa/Gupta-Zuma-State Capture: The commission investigating corruption during Zuma’s 9 years in power in the fourth part of its report released today Friday has concluded that “Jacob Zuma would do anything the wealthy Indian-born Gupta family wanted him to do from early in his first term”. Zuma “hired and fired ministers (…) at the behest of the Gupta family”, sacked a finance minister who would not comply with the Guptas’ wishes, appointed “two subsequent ministers who were friendly to the family’s interests.” Key members of state electricity utility Eskom’s executive were also put in place by the Guptas.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2022. 10:55

Lake Chad Basin/Transitional Justice: “(V)ictim-centric remedies are crucial in getting transitional justice right”. In the four countries (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria) different mechanisms of local conflict resolution are already in place. “It would however be helpful to have more coherent and consolidated strategies for the region. And a balance between restorative and retributive justice would need to be found.” But the right balance between restorative, retributive, rehabilitative and reparative justice will depend on context. Inclusive (women! Youths!) community-centred consultations should form the basis. The ISS report “Transitional justice. Testing the waters in the Lake Chad Basin” by Akinola Olojo and Maram Mahdi can be downloaded at https://issafrica.org/research/west-africa-report/transitional-justice-testing-the-waters-in-the-lake-chad-basin.

Mozambique: An ISS zoom seminar of 1h31’ of a panel discussion about reconstruction of Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique’s north. Reconstruction must not “replicate the problems that sparked the insurgency”.

Rwanda/GB/Asylum seeker: The deal signed on 14th of April by British Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwanda’s Foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta will see asylum seekers flown from London to Kigali for processing of their asylum requests – successful applicants are to receive 5-year protection visas for Rwanda. The deal is inhumane, expensive (for London), most likely unworkable and in any case contrary to international law.

Ethiopia: In Gondar city (Amhara region/north), violence erupted at a funeral of a local religious figure on Tuesday and more than 20 Muslims were killed and hundreds injured. On Thursday, four mosques were burnt in Gondar by mobs. In apparent retaliation, three churches were burnt in Silte woreda (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region/south), also yesterday Thursday. “Muslims in the capital, Addis Ababa, have planned a mass gathering at Meskel Square late on Friday as they break their fast”. Authorities have arrested 280 and threaten people who would be found to spread tensions to other cities.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2022. 11:57

Sierra Leone/Liberia: Gibril Ealoghima Massaquoi in 1991 joined Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and quickly became its spokesperson. RUF fought in Liberia from 1999 to 2003. After the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone, Massaquoi “gave evidence to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (…). He was relocated to Finland as part of a witness protection programme, which provided immunity for crimes committed in Sierra Leone, but not Liberia.” Two years ago, he was arrested, accused to have “ordered buildings with people locked inside to be torched” in a context of “widespread rape and murder of civilians, often by enslaved child soldiers”. He has now been acquitted “of rape, ritual murder and the recruitment of child soldiers during Liberia's civil war” – according to the Finnish court, there was not enough proof.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2022. 13:36