5 May 2021

South Africa: The ANC has suspended its secretary general Ace Magashule. Tens of millions of dollars are thought to have disappeared around a tender to audit homes with asbestos roofs when ha was premier of Free State province. Magashule “denies charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering”.
BBC Africa Live 05 May 2021. 17:05

Zimbabwe: A contentious amendment to the constitution “gives the president powers to appoint judges and remove(s) the requirement of a running mate in presidential elections”. The women’s quota system is also extended “which provides for the appointment of 60 additional non-constituency female members of parliament” (no further details given). Under the amendment, 10 seats are provided for youths.
BBC Africa Live 05 May 2021. 16:07

Seychelles: In the country that is world champion in anti-Covid-vaccination (85% of the population, mostly with Sinopharm), there is a surge in Covid infections, so schools will close, sports and social events are forbidden, non-essential workers will work from home and a curfew is introduced.
BBC Africa Live 05 May 2021. 11:13

Chad: Military coups like the one in Chad that are intended to be transitional may instead turn out to be a risk for democracy in the longer term. There may be a short term need to maintain security. But the military may not be the best partner to build democratic governance. See Mali in August 2020. See Zimbabwe. See Sudan. See Egypt.

Zambia: According to the Varieties of Democracy Project, Zambia’s democracy is eroding fast. With elections coming up within four months, observers are not optimistic. Their concern starts with voters’ roll – the new roll looks like it is packed with ruling party voters. Concerns also turn to ethno-politics: the tradition of regional balancing in key government appointments has all but been given up and the government blatantly favours the north (Bemba-speakers) and the east (Nyanja-speakers), while forgetting about west (Lozi-speakers) and south (Tonga-speakers). Furthermore, the government has used COVID restrictions to curtail the opposition’s ability to campaign. Arrests for insulting/defaming the president have increased. The space for dissent and the space for media and non-governmental organisations has been substantially reduced. Fair elections seem to be totally out of reach.

4 May 2021

Racism: “Negro” is a word “invested with the powers of dehumanisation, on the one hand, and (it) absolve(s) the racist oppressor of culpability, on the other.” But in bebop and hip hop, “the odious, life-crushing word was made to undergo a rebirth, a reinvention and was as such infused with new music and sinuousness”. But Black Lives Matter and ongoing police brutality at black men and women (Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd…) in the face of inaction of the political establishment show that reaching “this stage of supposedly post-racial, post-Martin Luther King casual hipness” is by no means enough.

Nigeria: Few women get elected – few are candidates. Several factors contribute to this: women are poorer (candidacy costs a lot), less educated, there are the gender stereotypes, not least that power is thought to belong to men. What is needed is networking and mentoring, financial support, a change in media attitudes and affirmative action, e.g. a quota system.

Kenya: “The first woman judge joined the High Court only in 1993. It was not until 2003 that the first woman judge joined the Court of Appeal, then the highest court in the land.” After that, women’s share in the judiciary has been increasing, especially since the new constitution of 2010 which introduced a “two-thirds gender principle” (minimum of one-third for each gender for all public institutions). Now Martha Koome (an active and long-standing member of the International Association of Women Judges/Kenya Chapter) is set to become Kenya’s next Chief Justice. She faces “a huge backlog of cases built up over years” and will, amongst others, have to make sure the constitution’s two-thirds gender principle is put into practice.

West African fishing & women: While men dominate fishing and production, women dominate post-harvest processing (dressing, sorting, salting, smoking), selling and marketing. Women’s contributions to the fishery sector “are widely un(der)paid, undervalued and largely invisible”. One of the effects of this is that they have less access to capital and other resources. This is to a large extent a governance problem: “Fisheries policy-making and management overlooks the (often informal) contributions of women. Their fisheries contributions are treated as an extension of their everyday lives and responsibilities, rendering them invisible within the blue economy.” Women cooperatives provide some relief, but more support is urgently needed.

Food security: Sub-Saharan Africa is a net food importer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the fear was that the effects would substantially reduce food security. But the “situation appears to have, thus far, turned out better than some of the more pessimistic expectations”. This is partly because grain imports continued or increased and because governments supported agricultural production. Fairly good rains in eastern and southern Africa in the 2020/21 summer point to good maize harvests there. A remaining structural problem is bad road and storage infrastructure.
But the food security situation remains vulnerable: will the rains again be good next year? Will governments continue to support agriculture? How deep and lasting will the negative effects of the pandemic be?

South Sudan: After more than a year’s closure, the Education minister on Monday announced that schools will reopen throughout the country.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 8:35

Ethiopia: The European Union will not send elections observers to the 5 June elections because of “lack of agreement on key parameters”.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 5:34

Uganda: Parliament has passed a “sweeping” law on sexual offences. Street harassment, public sexual assault, harassment in professional settings are dealt with. “Cat-calling, indecent public exposure or demanding sexual favours in return for a job or academic progress has been made illegal.” Unfortunately, the law also contains a clause against “unnatural sexual offences”, alarming the LGBT community. MPs were unable to reach consent on defining “consent”, so this has been left out of the new law.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 9:35

Nigeria: Parents of students kidnapped at a forestry college in Kaduna city in March have been protesting outside Parliament and asking for help. The 39 students (like another group of students kidnapped from a university in Kaduna State in April) are still in captivity. “Kaduna state government has a policy of non-negotiation with the armed groups”.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 12:25

Mozambique: Last Friday, jihadists have “in full view of other villagers” beheaded five and kidnapped an unknown number of others in Pangane village, south of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 16:41