11 Feburary 2022

South Africa: Mandisa Maya is likely to be the country’s next Chief Justice. The article describes her career and her qualifications. Since 2016, she’s been the judicial system’s number 3, Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. “Her years on the bench, including the current position, have been characterised by the championing of children and women’s rights, the poor, and many other marginalised groups.” She’s been the first woman in her present job – she’d be the first woman supreme judge. On the topic, she herself says: “I’m not here because I’m a woman, I’m a worthy judge … I’m just a good woman judge.”

Kenya: The country’s schools closed in mid-March 2020, partially reopened in mid-October 2020, fully reopened at the beginning of 2021. The damage of such school closures on pupils has been important – for many, 3 months of school closure mean they lose a whole year. Kenya has tried to provide alternative learning during school closures, especially online. Unsurprisingly, many were left behind, with poor girls in rural areas the hardest hit. The article provides more information about the deepening of the divide in the wake of the school closures.

Soapy plants: There is a natural alternative to soap: saponin-rich plants. Saponins like soap clean and act against viruses (also the coronavirus), bacteria and fungi. Though this is little known, lots of plants contain saponins – in southern Africa like elsewhere.

Ghana: A proposed 1.75% tax on all electronic money transactions above 100 cedis (15 USD) has got people protesting in Accra. The opposition is calling the tax “daylight robbery” while the government says it will help “deliver crucial services and improve infrastructure”.
BBC Africa Live 11 February 2022. 7:46

Burkina Faso: Unsurprisingly, insecurity has had dire consequences for the country’s health system. By end 2021, according to the health ministry, “444 health facilities (30.7% of the total) have been impacted by insecurity in the regions most affected by the humanitarian crisis. 149 facilities are completely closed, depriving around 1.8 million people access to health care. 96% of these facilities closed because of direct attacks by unidentified armed groups”.

10 February 2022

Newly independent Africa/CIA: In her new book White Malice – The CIA and the Neocolonisation of Africa, Susan Williams “ruthlessly reveals through factual evidence the unsavoury machinations of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Africa during the Cold War until the late 1960s.” Hammarskjöld’s death, the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the removal of Kwame Nkrumah from office, Nelson Mandela’s arrest, even cultural programmes like sponsoring festivals and conferences including a concert tour through 27 African cities in 11 weeks during late 1960 by Louis Armstrong… - the CIA pursued “a hegemonic agenda with lasting impact”.

Sudan: Protests against the coup have been sustained over more than three months. Neighbourhood or resistance committees and the Sudanese Professionals Association (health workers, doctors, lawyers) are the main organisers. The neighbourhood committees were originally established in 2012 to ensure the distribution of essentials (bread, sugar, cooking gas) and only later turned into underground resistance committees. Protests against Omar al-Bashir in 2018/19 provided experience in organising protests. The success of those protests to this day provides inspiration and allows the continuation of the protests despite the harsh reaction of the authorities. The protesters only have themselves to trust – disappointment with formal political forces (the Forces of Freedom and Change) runs high; they didn’t achieve anything after the toppling of al-Bashir. Nor did the international community.

Libya: Unknown gunmen fired several rounds at the car of Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah in Tripoli but he survived. Later today Thursday, the parliament in the east of the country “is to vote (…) on a replacement prime minister for a government of national unity” – an election that Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah has announced he’ll ignore.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2022. 4:41

Libya: Fathi Bashagha, a former interior minister, has been voted new interim prime minister by Parliament. Mr Dbeibah’s, his predecessor’s mandate, had expired in December, says Parliament – but not Mr Dbeibah who thinks he will be in office until general elections take place.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2022. 13:31

Mozambique: The Resilience and Development Strategy for the North is to be approved by the Cabinet shortly. It no longer sees terrorism as an import from abroad but recognises internal factors – “socio-economic inequalities, frustration related to the exploitation of natural resources, especially among youth in the north, political and economic exclusion, and perceived marginalisation by the local population” – as causes of the crisis in Cabo Delgado. The three pillars of the strategy are “support for the construction of peace, security and social cohesion; reconstruction of the social contract between the state and the population; and recovery economics and resilience.” On the basis of the strategy, the government hopes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from donors. But is the government serious about changing its approach quite fundamentally?

Tanzania: A ban on four newspapers (Mwanahalisi, Mawio, Mseto and Tanzania Daima) has been lifted by the government. They had been critical of ex-President John Magufuli. His successor, Samia Suluhu, “has vowed to uphold media freedom” – unbanning of the four papers seems a good step in that direction.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2022. 12:49