20 August 2021

Women & Food Security: “Eliminating hunger will require that research and policies empower women to participate effectively in the food system.” Generally, the role of women in agricultural production and diets is overemphasised while their role in markets, consumer demand and consumer purchasing power receives too little attention. Similarly, women’s access to resources and services is overemphasised, while issues of control tend to be overlooked. In a new study, the article’s authors have gendered the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (Glopan) food system framework which embraces “agricultural production, market and trade systems, people’s ability to buy food, how to transform food, the types of food people are likely to consume and healthy diets”. According to the study, improving food security would need to 1) improve women’s access to markets and trade systems (e.g. daycare facilities near markets); 2) improve women’s social protection (e.g. social grants or food parcels); 3) improve women’s access to nutritious food which makes a big difference to maternal and child health, particularly during pregnancy.

Sindiwe Magona’s latest novel: The article is a homage to the South African author and her novel “When the Village Sleeps”, a story about “three generations of women in one family and the central role of ancestral belief and ancient custom – or a lack of it – in their lives”.

South Africa: Proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act want to introduce more stringent firearm licensing measures – acquiring a firearm licence for self-defence purposes would no longer be possible. Firearms being the most common weapons for murder and other violent crimes(carjacking, house robberies, etc.), this is good news. On top of that, “(m)ore concerted efforts by the police to seize illegal firearms is essential.”

Eritrea/Ethiopia/Somalia: The 2018 “trilateral alliance (…) could heighten regional tensions and undermine IGAD's work”. A 12-page Institute for Security Studies (ISS) report by Roba D Sharamo and Selam Tadesse Demissie.

China & Russia vs. “the West” in Africa: Is liberal democracy good for emerging states? China, some south-east-Asian states, Turkey seem to indicate the contrary. And authoritarianism has been the prevalent governance model for most of Africa’s history. Post-colonial states have been built around liberal values, but “the exercise of power often contradicts those tenets (…) With their often ill-defined borders and semi-autocratic regimes, states in Africa are sensitive about safeguarding their recently gained sovereignty and territoriality.” With “the West” insisting on human rights etc, it may actually push African nations into China’s and Russia’s arms…

Zambia: Hakainde Hichilema has won the presidential elections by a landslide. Edgar Lungu had become increasingly autocratic over the years, amongst others using COVID-19 to deny the opposition space to campaign, deploying the police to restrict opposition activities, and curbing parties’ access to state media. Yet “(m)ore than a vote for Hichilema, this election is a clear expression of frustration with Lungu’s economic management.” Successful businessman Hichilema “has promised a new regime of debt management, economic stability, a return to macroeconomic fundamentals, stability, policy consistency and middle-income status for the country.” Will he live up to (high) expectations?

19 August 2021

South Africa: When interpreting recent looting and sabotage in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, what needs to be born in mind is that violent protest in the country have a long history – and their number has been steadily rising over the past 20 years. Protests do not arise where needs are highest. Service delivery protests are concentrated in metropolitan areas, for example, not in rural areas where provision of electricity/water/sanitation is much worse. Then, it is not levels of provision that spark protests but perceived inequality/unfairness in provision. People living in squalor in informal settlements are incited by comparison with neighbouring communities and their much more comfortable lives. Also, “communities are more likely to protest when they can clearly attribute blame, and where visible institutions are perceived to possess the means for redress” – particularly relevant where mismanagement and corruption are causing bad service delivery.

Nigeria: Many issues were left unresolved after the 1967-70 Biafra War and continue to stoke resentment amongst many Igbos. Nnamdi Nwannekaenyi Okwu Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, represents the radical, largely confrontational and separatist wing of Igbo nationalism. Other groups are non-violent, favouring diplomatic negotiations. The central government’s reaction to Kanu’s militancy was repressive and brutal, Buhari’s politics are perceived as non-inclusive of the country’s southeast.

Boko Haram: According to Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research, over 4,000 have deserted from Boko Haram up to 2020. Their reasons for deserting were military operations against Boko Haram, poor living conditions, disillusionment and misalignment of objectives. In 2021, after the death of Abubakar Shekau, another more than 2,000 have deserted. The figure includes civilians who under Shekau had been kept against their will as forced, unpaid labour and/or human shields. And it includes fighters who do not want to join the now dominant Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). This may be the perfect moment, the article argues, for stepping up efforts to make more Boko Haram fighters desert and thus weaken the terrorists.

South Africa: “Fewer guns mean fewer femicides.” So tighter gun control would be beneficial for women. In South Africa as elsewhere.