2 March 2021

Mozambique: Amnesty International has published a report called ‘What I Saw Is Death’: War Crimes in Mozambique’s Forgotten Cape documenting hundreds of civilian deaths as war crimes in Cabo Delgado were committed by armed group, government forces, and private military contractors.
Overall, more than 2,300 have been killed and over 600,000 displaced since the insurgency started in October 2017.
BBC Africa Live 02 March 2021. 8:37
For the report: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/mozambique-civilians-killed-as-war-crimes-committed-by-armed-group-government-forces-and-private-military-contractors-new-report/

Ethiopia: The BBC reporter Girmay Gebru has been arrested by soldiers in Tigray’s capital Mekelle along with four others and has been taken to a military camp.

Tunisia: In the ten years since the ouster of Ben Ali, too little has changed, so “the grievances behind recent protests are the same as those that led to the Revolution”. It is not specific people, but the entire system that the protesters are up against.

Covid-19: When health systems are overwhelmed, oxygen and task-shifting (moving certain tasks to less specialised health workers) will save more lives than intensive care. The author has experience from a South African hospital. Before Covid-19, task-shifting has also worked well with HIV-Aids, tuberculosis, Ebola. It needs to be well organised, in advance, if possible.

Traditional medicine: The approximately 2 million traditional healers in sub-Saharan Africa (200,000 in South Africa) are at high risk of infection from bloodborne and airborne pathogens, for example when they practice incision to apply herbs manually. They often lack protective equipment and if they have it, they often lack the knowledge how to use it effectively. The authors’ research has shown that in Mpumalanga (South Africas’s north-east), HIV prevalence amongst traditional healers is 30% compared to 19% in the general population.
To reduce risks, protective equipment should be made more easily accessible and healers who use personal protective equipment consistently could train those who do not.

Ghana’s tro-tros: The mini-buses – filling gaps in the public transport system – use about 30% of the country’s road space and convey over 70% of person-trips in the country. They are also accident-prone, killing 300 and injuring nearly 2,000 in the first quarter of 2019. The author’s research has shown that “fines and prison sentences are not suited for inducing safer driving behaviour among tro-tro drivers”. While the mini-bus owners generally make good money, the drivers and their assistants suffer great occupational uncertainty, extremely harsh working conditions and meagre returns. On top of that, corrupt police officers harass them, using threats of arrest to extort bribes. Under the circumstances, to make ends meet, drivers have no other choice but to increase the number of trips and passengers per trip. They thus “drive for long hours, resort to dangerous overtaking and overloading and drive at dangerously high speeds.” Therefore, “targeting the drivers themselves won’t stop the behaviour. What need addressing are the work-related and system-level constraints they operate under.” It is not at all a question of lack of discipline or recklessness.

Nigeria/mass abduction: 279 girls kidnapped at a boarding school in Jangebe (Zamfara state, north-west of the country) last Friday have been freed (the figure of 317 first given by authorities was inaccurate). Kidnapping for ransom is frequent in Nigeria. It is not known what deal between the government and the kidnappers has secured their release. “It is believed that schools have started to be targeted as such abductions attract a lot of attention – putting more pressure on the authorities to negotiate with the armed criminal group responsible.” Unlike the Chibok abductions, the several recent attacks are thought to be the work of criminals, not islamists.

Morocco: Morocco’s foreign affairs ministry has announced the suspension of contacts with the German embassy because of its stance on Western Sahara – Germany had criticised the US recognition, in December, of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Also in 2020, Germany did not invite Morocco to an international meeting about Libya.
BBC Africa Live 02 March 2021. 6:44

1 March 2021

Your silence does not provide for you”. BBC Africa Live’s African proverb of the day – a Luo proverb sent by Patrick Ochieng in Nairobi, Kenya.

Congo-Kinshasa: Despite Tshisekedi’s lip service, Grand Inga on the lower Congo river does not seem to be going anywhere. There is no transparency at all. No financing, no future customers for the electricity generated… “A forthcoming Institute for Security Studies report argues that (…) Kinshasa should ‘focus on the fundamentals’ of governance, which includes comprehensive household electrification through renewables, using mini- and off-grid electricity solutions. This would provide significantly more benefits than large capital investments on the government balance sheet such as the pursuit of Grand Inga beyond Inga 3.”

Eritrea/migration: At least before the Tigray conflict, Ethiopian refugee camps offered safe space, but not a desirable future, that is why Eritrean refugees “risk falling prey to human traffickers, abuse, detention and death” in trying to reach Europe. The article’s authors undertook research from 2016 to 2019 and “discovered that although refugees are aware of the risks of leaving, there are risks to staying, including the despair of being stuck in ‘camp time’ with no prospects for a future.” In Ethiopia itself, the refugees are mostly restricted to camps with little real-life perspectives.

Zambia: Last year, the transmission lines of Copperbelt Energy Corporation were declared as a common carrier by the government. But the company had appealed against the “expropriation” and the High Court has now overturned the government’s decision.
BBC Africa Live 01 March 2021. 10:02

Ethiopia: Two fixers (local journalists who help foreign correspondents), one working for AFP, the other for the Financial Times, have been arrested in Tigray. The arrests – unexplained so far – came one day after a warning the the government would “take measures against those misleading international media”.
BBC Africa Live 01 March 2021. 17:07