13 February 2023

You don’t count the toes of a nine-toed man before his eyes
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 4:30. Proverb of the day. A Yoruba proverb sent by Olawale Alabi in Abuja, Nigeria.

Malawi: Following intense criticism from CSOs and donors, the Director of Public Prosecutions has said he had dropped charges against Martha Chizuma, head of the country’s anti-corruption agency who had been accused “of criminal defamation over a leaked audio in which she allegedly made remarks suggesting that a number of senior government officials and some judicial officers were hindering the fight against corruption”. But according to her lawyer, the charges have so far not been formally withdrawn.

Kenya: Red-billed quelea are the world's most populous wild birds. One of them eats around 10g of grain per day. But the swarms that have invaded rice field in western Kenya can number 2 million – that makes 20 tonnes a day. The reason of the invasion of the “feathered locusts” may be the drought in the Horn of Africa – “fewer seeds from wild grasses, a primary source of food for queleas”, so “the birds look for an alternative”. Or it may be an adaptation to the overall trend of intensive farming and settlement diminishing space for natural vegetation and at the same time increasing availability of the birds’ food by means of increasing cereal crop production. The quelea breed three times a year with up to nine nestlings. And they are extremely mobile. As traditional methods (sticks, mud throwing, vuvuzelas) fail, the government has resorted to chemical spraying with drones targeting the resting and breeding grounds with the pesticide fenthion. But fenthion is highly toxic to others also and “will have severe consequences on the ecosystem, other plant and animal species, as well as human health”.

Eastern Congo-Kinshasa: “(N)either military pressure nor the proliferation of peace deals will solve the region’s problems”. Nairobi (deployment of a regional force) and Luanda (ceasefire between RDC and Rwanda) processes face implementation problems. The regional force and Monusco have a legitimacy problem. “The DRC’s complex conflicts are deeply rooted in historical, local, national and regional grievances” and that is what needs to be addressed. As neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) are supporting some of the armed groups active in Eastern Congo, measures also need to be taken there.

Somalia: The country “has the longest coastline on the African continent, but its maritime borders are porous and affected by insecurity on land.” There is a lot of smuggling, especially also of arms, feeding conflict in the country and its neighbours (as far as Mozambique). The weakness of navies in the region has had major powers (e.g. the US, the EU, China, Saudi Arabia) step in. The article argues for proactive regional action within the framework of the IGAD Task Force on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (IGAD = Intergovernmental Authority on Development = Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda).

Uganda: In a January report, the country’s NGO Bureau, “which oversees the work of NGOs”, has joined in the chorus calling for criminalisation of LGBTQ organisations. And it wants more resources from the government in order to “identify and weed out those (NGOs) that are involved in activities that are prejudicial to the interests of the people of Uganda”. For a year, the NGO Bureau has investigated 26 NGOs involved in sexual minorities’ rights work and has not yet reached its conclusions for several of them.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 8:56

South Sudan: Apart from oil (90% of government revenue), “the country also has huge scope for increased production of food and renewable energy like solar, wind and hydro. It has considerable potential to use the Nile for irrigation and electricity production.” There is substantial international interest and GDP growth is expected to increase to 6% this year. But the South Sudanese at large do not seem set to benefit – some of the big projects that are in the pipeline may even worsen living conditions. For the time being over 50% of the population are acutely food insecure, “only 39% (…) ha(ve) enough water to meet household needs” and the country may be the least electrified worldwide with about 1% having access to electricity.

Senegal: If the World Bank forecast comes true, then no other African country will grow faster next year than Senegal at 8.0%. It is mainly due to the discovery of offshore oil and gas fields.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 12:44

Chad: In a prison where close to 400 of them are held, a trial “in connection with the death of President Idriss Déby” has today started against over 450 supposed members of the Front for Change and Consensus. The charge: terrorism and threatening the security of the state.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 16:47

12 February 2023

Namibia: Baby abandonment has been decriminalised in 2019, so a woman who abandons her baby will no longer be prosecuted. Safe places were established where such children can be left. The BBC article is about one of them, the “baby-saver-box” of Ruach Elohim Foundation in Swakopmund. Ten babies – mostly new-borns – have been left there in a bit over four years. “The mother has 30 days to claim her baby back if she changes her mind.” After that, the baby will be registered as an adoptive baby. Knowledge about the change of law is insufficient, so many of the 140 babies abandoned in the country in the last five years according to police statistics were left in unsafe places. Abandoning a baby may be giving the baby “an opportunity to live” or to live better.

Congo-Kinshasa: Seven Congolese soldiers have been sentenced to death for having “fled advancing M23 rebels, retreating through the town of Sake where they killed two people by recklessly discharging their arms”. They will appeal the verdict. In Congo-Kinshasa, “death sentences are commuted to life imprisonment”.