23 February 2021

Mozambique: Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira and leader of the country’s third largest (behind Frelimo and Renamo) party MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement) has died, most probably of Covid-19. He’d been taken to South Africa for treatment.
BBC Africa Live 22 February 2021. 17:27

Racism et al. in Europe: Despite the European Parliament’s passing a “Resolution on the Fundamental Rights of People of African Descent” in 2019 and an “ambitious” anti-racism action plan for 2020-2025, “the EU has some way to go to fully recognise, let alone address, the structural legacies of colonialism”.
Sweden comes first in the “Good Country Index” (https://index.goodcountry.org/) and doesn’t have much of a colonial past (with the exception of the Saami), yet Sweden has recently opposed the implementation of the Durban Declaration (adopted 20 years ago), “the world’s most comprehensive human rights instrument against racial discrimination”. And that is just one example.

Mining & its continued harming of the environment: The Conversation article is a summary of the two authors’ “The evolving techniques of the social engineering of extraction: Introducing political (re)actions ‘from above’ in large-scale mining and energy projects”. To minimise resistance against projects harmful to people or to the environment, “extractive corporations and their governmental allies sculpt social conditions. They ‘manufacture’ consent and ‘manage’ dissent towards their ventures.” They shape “the perceptions and behaviour of governments, shareholders, consumers, and people living in the areas where large-scale resource extraction occurs.” Mining firms use hard (coercion) and soft (e.g. community relations work) techniques. They can for example hide under the chimera of ‘green extractivism’.

Intellectual property linked to geography: People around the world attach value to buying authentic products from their sources, coffee from Ethiopia, for example. There is a type of intellectual property right called Geographical Indications (GI) that offers protection. Yet few African countries benefit, few have signed the relevant treaties and few have certified GI products – Oku white honey from Cameroon, South African Rooibos tea and South African lamb being exceptions. “Registration and export of GI products will improve the economy of rural African communities.”

Nigeria/Covid-19: Throughout most of Africa, official coronavirus case and fatalities numbers are generally thought to be far lower than the real numbers – due to low testing and poor registration of deaths. Concerning the latter, according to the BBC, “Nigeria is among countries on the continent that do not have a compulsory system to register deaths (…). Only Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles and Mauritius have a universal death registration system.”
An antibodies-survey undertaken in 4 Nigerian states with a total of 10,000 participants suggests that 1 in 5 of those tested in the states of Lagos (south-west), Enugu (east) and Nasarawa (centre) and 1 in 10 in Gombe (north-east) had been infected.
The official figure for Nigeria stands at 153,000 cases and 1,862 deaths. According to the antibodies-survey, there have been around 4 million positive cases in the state of Lagos alone – more than have been officially registered in the whole of Africa to date.

22 February 2021

Anti-Terrorism/ECOWAS: Sampson Kwarkye of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) calls the 2020-24 Action Plan to ‘eradicate’ terrorism in West Africa, adopted by ECOWAS in 2019, a step in the right direction. But there are many problems with it. 1) It does not seem to be getting off the ground (“only initial meetings have been held with member states to discuss and agree on putting the plan into operation”) 2) It is overambitious: to end terrorism within five years will hardly be possible (“Counter-terrorism is a complex, long-term endeavour that requires significant investments of time and money”) 3) It forgets about the root causes (“nearly 80% of the plan’s budget is allocated to three areas: border management and security; information and intelligence sharing; and training and equipment for defence and security forces”; “the conditions that allow terrorism to thrive will go unattended”).

Somalia: The “international community” has intervened and invested in the state building and peace building efforts for the last two decades, yet the political situation is once again at a stalemate. Elections have not been held, so is Farmaajo still president? Peter Fabricius gives an overview of the main points of contention. The main issue seems to be centralisation of power versus federalism/decentralisation. During his mandate, Farmaajo has failed to foster political stability, yet the country can ill afford the apparently deepening political divide.

Congo-Kinshasa/Big Man Politics: Paul-Simon Handy and Félicité Djilo reflect on the (absence of) rule of law. Politics in the country is all about being president. Félix Tshisekedi has changed nothing about that. His recent outmanoeuvring of Joseph Kabila who had been trying to remain the strongman behind the throne has been possible because of the tradition of political ‘transhumance’ and by poaching the latter’s supporters. It brought two years of cohabitation between a presidency and a Parliament controlled by different parties to an end. But it does not augur well at all for the rule of law. And “the main party in the DRC happens to be neither FCC nor Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), but rather political opportunism”.

Kenya/ Voluntariness of Female Terrorism: Women and girls act as recruiters, logistics planners, financial conduits, spies, masterminds behind terrorist attacks, conveners of terror cells.” 16 case studies look into the question how voluntary their recruitment is. “Al-Shabaab recruitment thrives on revenge among individuals who see the state as the perpetrator of the injustices suffered in their lives. A crisis event in the life of women and girls – such as the police killing a loved one – was found to be an important tipping point. Some women join extremist networks to avenge the death of a husband, fiancé, or son at the hands of government security actors.” There are no clear conclusions: some have made autonomous decisions – others have been forced or coerced to join through deception or intimidation.

Mali/Women & Radio: Empowerment means different things for different women: staying in school, negotiating more equitable relationships, learning how to start a small business to become financially independent and provide for one’s family. How to do this?
“Access to information is the route to empowerment and, in Mali, radio remains the main source of information. The country has 170 private radio stations, 121 of which are volunteer-run community stations. Radio is widely trusted”. But “women’s empowerment in Mali cannot be reduced to a matter of individual choice or agency. It refers to collective agency and decision making”. Development programmes often go wrong in this. Radio must not extract women from the web of relations that surround them.

Rwanda/South Africa: A Rwandan politician – Seif Bamporiki, coordinator of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) – who lived in exile in South Africa has been shot. The question is: was it a politically motivated murder?
BBC Africa Live 22 February 2021. 5:02