03 February 2023

eSwatini: Only hours before Maseko was murdered, the country’s king had stated that people causing political trouble should not “cry about mercenaries coming after them”. Thulani Maseko was a fierce government critic, but he was “the opposition’s voice of reason”, always “urging peaceful dialogue”. The murder, the ISS’s Peter Fabricius argues, could be a turning point – but we don’t know in which direction. Concerning the region’s Southern African Development Community which has timidly tried to act as mediator, it “surely needs to be much more demanding than to ‘propose’ something (king) Mswati has already agreed to, if it hopes to prevent the country from sliding further into violence.”

Algeria/Red coral: Algeria’s reserves are the largest. Red coral – which may cost up to 5 000 euros per kg – facing extinction, a “moratorium on harvesting was in place from 2001 to 2021”. This has not stopped red coral fishing, but pushed it underground. Hoping to control illicit harvesting, the moratorium was lifted in 2021 and collecting and selling are now regulated. Amongst others, “(l)icensed fishers must sell 70% of their product to the state company AGENOR. No more than 3 000 kg may be harvested annually in selected areas.” Critics believe “that fishers might not declare their entire harvest, and sell the excess on the black market at inflated prices” and also “that poaching will be replaced by state-approved looting”. Measures abroad are also needed: illegally harvested red coral must be made difficult to sell.

Mozambique/Rwanda: By end 2022, Rwandan troops in Cabo Delgado province had increased to 2,500 (from 1,000 in 2021). In Ancuabe District in the province’s south, they now protect lucrative ruby and graphite industries that had to be halted because of terrorist attacks but are now again operative. The terms of the agreement between Kigali and Maputo are not known, but it looks as if the agreement targeted natural resources. Rwandan troops seem to have created “another island of safety”, now for the benefit of the ruby and graphite industries – while the locals of other parts of Cabo Delgado are more or less left to themselves.

South Africa/Black travelogues: Under-recognised for a long time, the travelling while black movement contributes to decolonising travel. With the need to justify one’s movements gone, it is now time to claim spaces. The article briefly discusses seven South African travelogues – where travelling happens mostly in Africa. In one of them, the author (Sihle Khumalo) remarks that travelling is “about being greedy for new experiences that can never happen if you do not move your sorry ignorant naïve self from one point to the other”.

Ghana: Water ATMs are “automated water vending machines that store clean water and are most often connected to a water purifying plant that uses groundwater. Customers buy water from the ATMs using a water card, which is topped up with credit via mobile money.” The article discusses the effects of such ATMs in off-grid Ghana – they are not all positive, while for example improving clean water accessibility, water vendors lose their jobs.

Kenya: The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, established in 2011, oversees elections including voter registration and the fixing of boundaries for electoral constituencies and wards. Since its creation, it has been “at the centre of Kenya’s history of post-election violence”, accused “of failing to administer elections fairly and lawfully”. With the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill signed into law, the appointment of the commission’s members is to make “the selection process more participatory and reflective of the country’s diversity”. It is hoped that this will strengthen the commission, provide election results accepted by all and thus make the country’s political culture more peaceful in future.

02 February 2023

Tanzania: With party rallies “the country's real form of mass communication”, President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s unbanning them has made politics come back to life even if the challenges that lie ahead for the opposition parties after seven years of effective one-party dictatorship are massive. At a time when the “legacy of Magufuli's misogynist leadership style certainly made it difficult for a woman to flex her muscles in what is still a conservative, patriarchal society”, President Samia not only survived but seems to have started to thrive. She now defines her mission by the “four Rs: reconciliation, resiliency, reforms and rebuilding” and seems “to genuinely care about fixing a broken system”. But one thing is and remains clear: it is President Samia who is in charge.

Namibia/Film: Perivi Katjavivi’s Under the Hanging Tree is about Herero police woman Christina and how, “from a young woman who is colonised and uprooted from her culture” she grows into one “who acknowledges her heritage and its tragic history”. At one of the country’s German farms, the owner has been discovered hanged on a tree “echoing what happened more than a century ago when Herero people were hanged by the Germans from trees like this”. Through the German’s hanging, Perivi Katjavivi treats the genocide of the beginning of the 20th century.

Zimbabwe: Parliament has adopted the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment bill which would probably better be called the NGO Gagging Bill as it gives government greater control over NGO operations and can be used to shut them down. “The government says the law will stop international organisations from channelling funds to the opposition through the NGOs.” In January, 291 NGOs have been deregistered – some for allegedly failing to submit annual tax returns, others for “national security reasons and allegedly straying from their mandate”.
BBC Africa Live 02 February 2023. 14:53

Angelique Kidjo: She is 62 now and might soon win a record sixth Grammy Award. A homage to Benin’s version of Mama Africa, like Miriam Makeba, Cesaria Evora... elsewhere.

South Africa: The article reflects on the country’s foreign policy stance under Ramaphosa.

South Sudan/Church leaders: The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland are about to go on a peace mission in South Sudan. But, with the conflict that resulted in more than 400,000 deaths still ongoing, are people there ready for peace, ready to forgive? Anyways, church leaders are of highest importance in moving towards peace, maybe locally as a first step…

Nigeria/Shell: Shell has just announced its highest ever profits – 39.9bn USD – for 2022. On another front, as the latest development in a seven-year legal battle, over 13,000 from Ogoniland’s Ogale and Bille communities of the Niger Delta have filed individual claims against Shell at the High Court in London, wanting it “to clean up oil spills and compensate them for the damage to their land”. In 2011, a UN report had recommended the immediate cleaning up of the area – but the people who live there “still don’t have access to clean water and farmland”.
BBC Africa Live 02 February 2023. 12:42