01 June 2021

Mozambique: Despite good prospects at the outset, the last decade has been a big deception with growth fallen sharply and poverty and other indicators of deprivation stubbornly high. The article’s two authors think there are three lessons to be learnt from the failure of the inward foreign investment-based development strategy: “Don’t believe the hype”: foreign investors are generally over-optimistic, sometimes wildly so; “Foreign investment is a means, not an end”: natural resource investment rarely generates development, advantages accrue to a small elite only; and finally: “Don’t forget the poor”: attention needs to be paid to the balancing of regional and rural-urban patterns of development – the north of the country has always been poorer than the south, but the gap has widened.
What’s needed is a vision for the country’s development as a whole – “a coherent set of policies, not projects” – based on “a genuine understanding of the complexities of ‘on-the-ground realities’, including weaknesses in state capacity and political dynamics”.

Reparations for enslavement etc.: Unlike the article states, Germany is not paying reparation – it is giving development aid after having recognized that it committed genocide against the Herero and Nama. The article wants to help how to agree on reparations or compensation for enslavement or colonial abuses by providing tips from behavioural science. “The first step then is to rigorously take account of the harms inflicted.” Then comes the question, how much money is needed for compensation. Once that’s decided, how is the compensation to be divided across groups? There are not really any tips how to proceed. And Germany with its development aid money is by no means targeting the Herero and Nama – their representatives were not part of the inter-governmental negotiations, and they unsurprisingly do not accept the deal.

Mali/France: So now it is the French foreign minister’s turn to talk tough: Jean-Yves Le Drian “has called for strict adherence to Mali's transition timetable (…) and reiterated France's condemnation of the coup”. Hiding, as usual, behind ECOWAS, he clearly tried to create the impression of being less gentle than the subregional body, saying that “the adherence to the criteria verified by Ecowas was essential for maintaining international support for Mali.”
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2021. 8:00

FranceAfrique: While Opération Barkhane has rather little to show for its efforts, it cost close to 1bn euros in 2020. If France wants to share the burden with partners, it will need to show UN and African Union support and approval for its operations in faraway-Africa. The three authors’ research in Britain, the US and Germany has “found that approval by the UN or AU (or both) increased US, UK and German public support for contributing to French military operations” significantly.

Uganda: Unknown gunmen riding on a motorcycle have shot and injured Katumba Wamala, Transport Minister and a former army commander. His driver and his daughter were killed, the minister’s injuries are said not to be life-threatening. This was not the first shooting by armed men on motorcycles: Ibrahim Abiriga was killed in June 2018, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, a former police spokesperson was killed in April 2017, and a magistrate and several Muslim clerics were killed in similar ways. “None of the assassinations has ever been successfully investigated or prosecuted.”
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2021. 7:06 & 9:43

Kenya/Somalia: Kenya has said that “it may impose a total ban on flights from Somalia including those on humanitarian missions.” Allegedly, such flights are being misused for “bilateral and political matters”. From now on, all humanitarian flight must seek clearance first and provide a list of goods and passengers transported.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2021. 4:36

Fishing/West Africa: A report from Greenpeace Africa et al. says processing of fish fit for human consumption should be stopped as “exports of fish meal and fish oil from West Africa are depriving more than 30 million people a year of food.” Such processed fish is mainly used in Europe and Asia for fish farms, pet food and cosmetics.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2021. 9:53

Nigeria/Women: To get more women into politics and into positions of power, quotas are not enough, you also need to “deal with the underlying barriers women face in conducting successful campaigns and getting elected”. Instead of adding new seats reserved for women to the existing parliament, like Nigeria plans to do (despite high costs), it would be better to introduce a requirement for parties to present a minimum percentage of candidates of each sex for elections.

31 May 2021

South Africa/Feminism: Wits University Press has published Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon, the authors of this article about the book, “to show how writers in the academy, fiction-writing, journalism and the art world are grappling innovatively with essential topics”. Sounds fascinating.

Kenya/Early, unintended pregnancies: The article’s author with colleagues carried out a study to understand why so many girls continue to become pregnant so early, despite awareness of the dangers of early unintended pregnancy and knowledge of contraceptives having increased. 1,840 adolescent girls were interviewed in the two counties with the highest rates of adolescent pregnancies. “They said that they were sometimes tricked into having sex, lacked correct knowledge of contraceptives and their side effects. They also did not have trusted mentors they could confide in when it came to sexual matters.” The article gives details and figures. As a remedy, comprehensive sexuality education is absolutely essential – before the adolescents ever have sex. Access to contraceptives will also be important.

Congo-Kinshasa: Six cholera cases have been reported from a camp in Sake town in North Kivu to which people had fled fearing another eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, the volcano close to Goma. 32 had been killed in the recent eruption and hundreds of homes on the outskirts of Goma had been destroyed.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 7:59

Congo-Kinshasa: 50 or more were killed overnight in Boga and Tchabi villages in Ituri province in the country’s east, most probably by ADF who last week killed 22 or more in neighbouring North Kivu province. But there has also been violence between two ethnic groups in the region, so maybe it was not the AFD after all.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 13:34 & 12:03

Zambia: Members of the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) are said to have been arrested by police after Friday’s strike call. RDAZ “is demanding the recruitment of 500 doctors and payment of salary arrears, among other issues”. RDAZ’s president’s practicing license was suspended and he was warned that he risked arrest if he’d continue to address members via Zoom. An “insane crackdown”, as critics from the opposition call it?
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 8:43

South Africa/Art: The Gaborone-based Medu Art Ensemble proclaimed that “Culture is a weapon of Struggle”. Formed by South African cultural activists exiled after the 1976 Soweto uprising, it worked with artists from South Africa, Botswana and other countries. It was a Pan Africanist, anti-colonialist undertaking using “the creative arts – visual image, theatre, music and literature – to give voice to South Africa’s liberation struggle”. On 14th of June 1985, it was destroyed by the South African army in a cross-border raid that killed 14 people.
Apart from individual members’ work, the Ensemble was as good as forgotten – until the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 collected and displayed Medu’s posters and published a catalogue. The article’s author, Judy Seidman, herself a member of Medu, discusses how problematic it was and is to exhibit and publish far away from the reality “far from the communities and struggles that birthed” Medu.

Rwanda/France: The article gives a historical overview of Rwandan-French relations. Has the pre-genocide push of France for democracy really furthered the propagation of anti-Tutsi genocidal ideology as the article’s author claims? “As Cold War declined in the early 1990s, France began to apply pressure on its African allies – such as Habyarimana – to democratise. In Rwanda, however, the transition from dictatorship to open political competition did not go well. Rather than peaceful mobilisation, the opening of political space helped Hutu ideological extremists loyal to Habyarimana to propagate the ideology of genocide against the Tutsis.”
As for the recent improvement in bilateral relations, with France for many Rwandans still representing “a period in their country’s history that was filled with ethnic hatreds, instability and Habyarimana’s dictatorship”, it will in the author’s opinion take time and persistent efforts to really mend these bilateral relations.

Ghana: Caleb Kudah, a journalist at Accra-based Citi TV, one of the country’s leading media houses, had been “investigating why cars purchased with public funds for distribution to transport unions had been abandoned at the premises of national security”. Security officials of the special tactics unit arrested him, manhandled and cuffed him, took him to the premises of Citi TV “intent on destroying evidence” and also arrested his colleague with whom he had shared mobile-camera videos. A similar incident had seen the special tactics unit assault voters and a sitting member of parliament during a parliamentary by-election in January 2019. The article’s author explores the roots of the problematic in early independent times, when Nkrumah – with Indian help – instituted a system that conflated policing and intelligence and totally bypassed all parliamentary control, reporting only to him.

South Sudan: With the 31 May deadline for having a unified army missed, Shiek Vitale Aligo, deputy chairman of South Sudan Civil Society Alliance, says the country’s leadership lacks political will and jeopardises the peace process.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 17:08