17 June 2021

Zambia: The country’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, has died today aged 97. He was being treated for pneumonia in hospital.
BBC Africa Live 17 June 2021. 14:53

Uganda/Women in politics: Jessica Alupo has been appointed vice-president (she is the second woman in that position after Specioza Wandira Kazibwe/1994-2003) and Robinah Nabbanja was appointed prime minister. On top of that, Museveni’s cabinet now comprises 43% women (27% so far). Over the last three decades, an active women’s movement has been able to increase women’s shares to 46% of local government positions and 33% of parliamentary seats. But “(s)ome regard women like Alupo and Nabbanja as coopted co-conspirators with Museveni in propping up a corrupt and illegitimate regime.” “(I)n Africa, (…) autocracies are as likely as democracies to promote women as leaders.” Democracies have on average 24% women in parliament and local government, while autocracies have 25%, the percentage of women ministers is slighty higher in democracies with 25% compared to 21% in autocracies.

Côte d’Ivoire: Over the last three months, several attacks in the north of the country, mostly close to the border with Burkina, have claimed the lives of 6 soldiers and have wounded five others. Authorities attribute the attacks to Mali’s Katiba Macina. In Côte d’Ivoire, the terrorist threat is usually seen as coming from the outside (Burkina and Mali), yet terrorists “are well integrated into the socio-economic fabric of Ivorian communities”. As elsewhere, “(e)xtremists exploit vulnerabilities such as local conflicts, governance deficits, security gaps and illicit activities to become integrated into communities, recruit members and raise funds.” It is essential to strengthen “cohesion within and between communities” to stop extremists from penetrating more deeply. Earning “the trust and respect of their border communities, many of whom feel neglected”, will be essential if authorities want to make a difference. And locals need to be “involved in finding ways to contain the threat of violent extremism”. An excellent article by William Assanvo of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS).

Congo-Kinshasa/Uganda: The two countries’ presidents have launched the construction of a 223km road from Kasindi Ruchuru-Goma via Beni, Butembo and Bunagana. Of USD 334.5m estimated total costs, Uganda will shoulder 20% and it will provide the soldiers to protect contractors. The rest will be financed by Congo-Kinshasa.
BBC Africa Live 17 June 2021. 6:49

Sudan: Sudan’s many pyramids (more than 200) have been under threat from sandstorms and shifting sand dunes for thousands of years, but today climate change, lack of preservation and negligent visitors has exacerbated that threat. “Built of sandstone and granite, the steeply-sloping pyramids contain chapels and burial chambers decorated with illustrations and inscriptions carved in hieroglyphs and Meroitic script celebrating the rulers’ lives in Meroe – a wealthy Nile city and the seat of power of Kush, an ancient kingdom and rival to Egypt.” Increasing the vegetation cover is the best way to fight sand movement and the Great Green Wall project could be of great help “limit(ing) the frequency of dust storms and slow(ing) the movement of sand onto fertile lands and Unesco sites in northern Sudan.” (“It will also contribute to tackling the extreme heatwaves in semi-arid areas such as the capital Khartoum.”) The article’s author is working on ways to understand and thus predict movement of sand dunes.

South Africa: So far, traditional courts were subject to the outdated colonial-era Black Administration Act of 1927. While these courts, in theory “have limited jurisdiction and powers, (…) these are often exceeded in practice. They hear a range of disputes surrounding marriage and inheritance as well as matters of assault and rape. Courts impose sanctions such as fines, corporal punishment and banishment.” Before being passed into law, the Traditional Courts Bill has been put on hold “to obtain legal opinion on the constitutionality of failing to provide people with a right to opt out of proceedings in traditional courts.” The law as it stands compels people who are summoned to appear before a traditional court. Forcing people to attend is a result of pressure from traditional leaders (who thus want to secure and strengthen their interests) who are seen of capable of delivering the rural vote. Before colonial and apartheid interference, “customary law was consensual in nature. Leaders gained authority and legitimacy from people who voluntarily affiliated to them.” If people are forced to participate, there is substantial potential for abuse.

Ethiopia: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party is likely to win elections, there seems no one to really challenge him, with some opposition leaders having withdrawn, others having been jailed (e.g. Jawar Mohammed of Oromo Federalist Congress and Eskinder Nega of Baldaras for True Democracy). But it will be an uneasy victory. The question of a fair sharing of power between the different ethnic groups is continuing to create conflict (and Abiy has never taken position in the unionist vs. federalist dispute). Ethiopia “struggle(s) to embrace the idea of winning by way of dialogue and moderation. Political competitors perceive each other as arch enemies. The typical tactic for winning has been eliminating the competitor. Dialogue and compromises remain alien concepts.” If he wins, there is the danger of Abiy steering a more authoritarian course, projecting himself as the incarnation of law and order.

Malawi: Malawi’s abolishing the death penalty in April 2021 could serve as a “roadmap for future challenges to the death penalty in other southern African countries”, even if the right to life is treated differently in the various constitutions.

Mauritius: A biography, or rather an homage to Anerood Jugnauth, “the towering figure of Mauritian politics for six decades” and “father of the Mauritian economic miracle” who has died on 3rd of June aged 91. Having, in his eighties, been prime minister once again from 2014 to 2017, the latest he added to his legacy was “garnering the support of more than 95% of nations of the United Nations General Assembly in supporting the return of the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius.”

Lake Chad Basin: The article enumerates frictions between the military and the humanitarian system in responding to terrorism. “Dialogue between the military, communities and humanitarian organisations is essential, especially since the security situation is becoming more volatile.” On communities’ side, not only traditional leaders should be implicated, but other community members also, e.g. women’s and youths’ groups.

Somaliland: Peaceful parliamentary elections won by the opposition – Somaliland’s cause could not have been served better internationally. Yet successfully practicing independence for three decades will most likely not suffice to gain international recognition – for that, Somalia would have to give its blessing. Members of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are also unlikely to back Somaliland, fearing a precedent for secessionist movements in their countries.

Nigeria: A 3-minute video just published seems to confirm the death of Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader. In the video, a man dressed in white with a black turban reads from a piece of paper in Arabic. He is said to be Boko Haram commander Bakura Modu, aka Sahalaba, maybe the group’s new leader.
BBC Africa Live 17 June 2021. 13:52

16 June 2021

Sudan: Choosing words that could hardly be more alarming, Abdalla Hamdok, the civilian Prime Minister, has warned of chaos and civil war: “The deterioration of the security situation is mainly linked to fragmentation between components of the revolution, which left a vacuum exploited by its enemies and elements of the former regime.” Is this a rallying call for all societal forces that brought down Omar al-Bashir by large scale and sustained peaceful resistance in 2019? Is he thus warning of the army that is still in control of the transition taking the country back to the old system?
BBC Africa Live 16 June 2021. 5:17

Burundi: BBC is once again allowed to broadcast in and from Burundi. “The BBC World Service was banned in March 2019 following a BBC Eye documentary that exposed secret detention and torture sites run by the country’s security services.” Several media banned under Nkurunziza have been allowed to reopen since Ndayishimiye became President. BBC will have to submit a request first to obtain a new operation licence.
BBC Africa Live 16 June 2021. 16:57

Congo-Kinshasa/Oxfam: 3 Oxfam staff members have been dismissed after an external investigation into allegations of abuses of power (nepotism, bullying, sexual misconduct and failure to manage conflicts of interest).
BBC Africa Live 16 June 2021. 16:00