24 October 2022

South Africa/State Capture: In an address to the nation, President Ramaphosa has accepted the Zondo commission’s conclusion that there was state capture under his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa said that his government would follow some of the Zondo commission’s over 300 recommendation, amongst them “criminal prosecutions of accused persons, legislative changes, as well the establishment of an anti-corruption commission”. However, Ramaphosa “was thin on detailing how his government would be implementing the commission’s findings” and “(n)o mention was made of members of his cabinet implicated in the report”. Unimagniably, the state capture revealed by the Zondo commission report is estimated to have cost South Africa more than 27 billion USD.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 5:06

Uganda/Tanzania/Oil pipeline: Economic development being their priority, the two countries are determined to go ahead with the construction of the 1,440km-Eacop-pipeline – the longest heated pipeline in the world with the heating necessary because of the “waxy nature” of the crude from Lake Albert. Construction is to start in the coming months despite concerns raised about human rights, climate change and the environment. But of course, “the continent has the right to use its fossil fuel riches to develop, just like rich nations have done for hundreds of years”, Africa having “only emitted 3% of climate-warming gases compared to 17% from EU countries”. But there is criticism of Eacop inside the two countries too, e.g. that it will “turn Uganda into a "petrol station" for Europe and China and (…) the windfall from the project will only benefit the country's elite”.

Burundi/Serbia: In June, the two countries had signed a visa-free agreement and quite a few Burundians had profited by getting to Europe visa-free, travelling on from non-EU Serbia to Romania and then on to Belgium or another rich EU country. But authorities have now put a stop to this – would be emigrants have been blocked half-way, in Turkey or Qatar. “Many sold all their properties hoping to get a life in Europe. Where do we go once back?”
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 9:30

Somalia: Kismayo, a port town in the south of the country, “had been relatively peaceful since the jihadis were driven out in 2012”. But an al-Shabab attack on a hotel now killed at least 9 and injured close to 50.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 7:17

Uganda/Ebola: As 9 more cases have been confirmed in the capital Kampala, there is concern that the present Ebola outbreak in the country – the first case was recorded over a month ago – could get out of hand. Up to now, there have been 75 confirmed cases in Uganda, 28 of them died.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 5:36

Uganda/Ebola: Whether we deal with Covid or with Ebola: “health emergencies do immediate and long-term harm to women, disproportionately”. And also: “women are essential to responding to health emergencies”. What needs to be done? As Ebola quarantines like Covid lockdowns “harm women and put an increased burden on their time and labour”, social and welfare support for vulnerable women is necessary from the outset. Community health work – essential for prevention measures but high-risk because of the exposure to the illness it implies – is mostly done by women health workers; they need protective gear. Special care must be taken so that no sexual abuse or exploitation happens under the cover of health measures. Also, statistics need to take gender aspects into account. Last but certainly not least, “women need to be involved at every level of decision-making”.

South Africa/Wits University: A 1986 – thus Apartheid time – study initiated by Wits University “revealed a disconnect between black South Africans’ perceptions of Wits and the image the administration had been attempting to convey of the university as a progressive opponent of apartheid” with most of the surveyed thinking that Wits served white, corporate interests. While staff and students are nowadays close to representative of the country at large, the article’s authors believe that another survey is necessary – it needs to ask the questions “Knowledge for whom, for what, by whom?” Particular attention needs to be paid to extractivism, to Wits having “served mining capital well over the years”. Inequality – which has in some cases worsened since the end of apartheid – needs special attention also. Is enough space accorded to marginal voices? Furthermore, do not market logic and the commodification of knowledge impinge on “independent critical thought” that Wits is so proud of furthering?

Egypt: Well-known activist and ex-MP Zyad el-Elaimy, jailed in 2020 for allegedly spreading false news, has been pardoned by al-Sisi. The country’s regime is “trying to soften its human rights image” – the “release is the latest in a recent string of political prisoners that Egypt has pardoned”, maybe in preparation of the COP27 climate summit to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh from 6th to 18th of November.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 12:07

23 October 2022

Uganda/Drug addiction: In Kisenyi, a slum in Kampala, the so-called Street Uncles, themselves (ex-)drug users, have opened a centre to rehabilitate young drug addicts. Around 500 live there or visit regularly. This The Guardian photo essay of November 2020 also discusses criminalisation and the unconstructive role played by Uganda’s draconian drug laws. Prison does not reform drug users…

Nigeria: The discovery sent shock-waves nationally and internationally. A 4km-long pipeline to the Atlantic where the stolen oil was loaded “from a 24-foot rig visible from miles on the open waters”. The pipeline ran through “heavily guarded creeks”. Yet it was in operation for years – until its recent discovery – “by a private security firm and not the authorities”. With the amount of theft and corruption thus revealed, no wonder that official production cannot even meet the OPEC quota and is more than half below the output of 2011. Many of the security people (even including high-ranking army and navy officers) are allegedly involved (through bribes) and much of the oil has allegedly been “stolen from precisely those areas where there were army and navy checkpoints”.