16 December 2022

South Africa: With the ANC in crisis – “(f)actionalism, association with corruption and poor governance (having been its) undoing” – this short article points to five former The Conversation articles dealing with the ANC’s problems. With the ANC apparently uncapable to reform, with corruption rife and its lack of capability to govern proven many a time (at national, provincial, local level), is continuation of the party’s decline and its demise inescapable?

South Africa/Oliver Tambo & the ANC’s transiting to democracy: The article discusses a book (Andre Odendaal’s “Dear Comrade President: Oliver Tambo and the Foundations of South Africa’s Constitution”) focussing the period starting in 1985 that saw the ANC moving from the pursuit of armed revolution to multiparty democracy. The “442-page book unpicks the process of adopting constitutional principles that included support for multiparty democracy and a bill of rights”, started by ANC leader Oliver Tambo, at its heart a seven-person constitution committee which included Kader Asmal, Pallo Jordan, Albie Sachs, Jack Simon and Zola Skweyiya. The document produced in 1988 by the committee was the ANC’s basis for negotiations that led to the handover of power.

South Africa: The article ponders the question whether the country would be better off without Cyril Ramaphosa at its helm, seen that his anti-corruption agenda has been seriously compromised by the Phala Phala scandal. And it also asks the question, whether South Africa wouldn’t be better off without the ANC. The author comes to the conclusion “that the country needs to start thinking of life without the ANC in charge”, even if that is likely to mean unstable coalitions for the near future.

Fake medicine/Children/Egypt: Counterfeit medicines have killed several Egyptian children recently, a 2-year-old died after injection of counterfeit medicine. An estimate of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene puts the number of child deaths because of counterfeit medicines at 300,000 per year. “There are up to 155,000 childhood deaths annually due to falsified anti-malaria drugs and a similar number of children dying from acute pneumonia after treatment with falsified and substandard (FS) antimicrobials.”
BBC Africa Live 16 December 2022. 5:03

Benin: The Marine Project is about building a slavery theme park in Ouidah – in the days of the Triangular Trade the Bight of Benin’s main slave port. It is to “include a hotel spa, a lifesize replica of a slave ship, memorial gardens, a craft market and an arena for vodun performances”, hoping to become “a major destination for Afro-descendant tourists in the diaspora”. Commodification of heritage, yes, and the mass tourism project also raises ecological concerns: will it not have “adverse impact on an area known for its unique ecosystem and biodiversity”? Nearby and also on the waterfront, “gigantic” Club Med’s d’Avlékété resort is under construction. The article discusses differing memorial strategies dealing with enslavement. A 4’50’’ video about the planned Marine Project can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wozQKSPLJ8s&feature=emb_imp_woyt.

15 December 2022

Liberia: Because of overcrowding and the danger of disease outbreak, Monrovia Central Prison now turns away new inmates if only accused of minor offences. The latter “are to instead be returned to communities and kept under the watch of community leaders”.
BBC Africa Live 15 December 2022. 7:19

Nigeria/Abortion: This article was prompted by a Reuters report alleging mass abortion programmes in the north-east of the country run by the army to prevent the children of women abducted and impregnated by jihadists to grow up and become Boko Haram members. While clearly stating that “(t)his forced abortion, if confirmed, is against the law and a crime against humanity”, the article is about abortion in Nigeria in general. The law permits it only if the life of the pregnant woman is in danger. Yet abortion is common, “with a rate estimated at between 41.1 and 59.4 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2017”. As it is illegal, abortion is often unsafe – deaths because of abortion are estimated to be around 20,000 per year, the country already having an extremely high maternal death rate (917 per 100,000 births). “Medical abortion is available through the use of misoprostol”, “an abortion drug that is safe, and self-administered, with no or mild consequences”. However, the article does not state how easily it is accessible.
N.B.: “Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Principe and South Africa have decriminalised abortion. They allow it without restriction.”

Nigeria: New Naira banknotes introduced today Thursday are to “address insecurity, tackle counterfeiting and force excess cash back into the banking system”. People have until 31st of January to replace their old Naira notes. The central bank estimates that 80% of naira notes in circulation are being hoarded. With elections due in February, the measure “is likely to hit politicians who might be planning to use cash to bribe voters”.
BBC Africa Live 15 December 2022. 6:31

Ghana: The country’s economic woes are far from over: in November, year-on-year inflation was up to 50.3%.
BBC Africa Live 15 December 2022. 5:09

South Africa’s Christians & sacred rivers: Water is a scarce commodity in South Africa, so it has value. Water also plays an important role in the Christian faith, for example for baptism – “in more recent times, especially in many African Christian communities, a completely new version of the ritual has arisen. This is where a church group conducts not only once off baptisms of new members but also subsequent baptism-like rituals at natural bodies of water at specific occasions for a variety of reasons.” The article reflects on the importance of water for the Christian faith and also in spirituality that had preceded it in South Africa.

Tuberculosis/TB: It is again the leading cause of death in Africa, thanks to HIV-Aids and Covid-19. The article explains why and lists what needs to be done. Financial and human resources for existing TB and TB/HIV services need to be increased; digital platforms for training and health education need to be developed; community-based TB treatment services need to be strengthened; virtual care, community-monitoring solutions to provide remote support need to be scaled up as well as SMS-based communication to improve treatment adherence.

Uganda/New Zealand: Wanting to show off the beauty of Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, President Museveni’s official Twitter account got it wrong and used a picture of Mt Sefton in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand instead.
BBC Africa Live 15 December 2022. 9:01

Horn of Africa: The Gulf countries are gaining in influence, while that of the Global North is lessening. The 16 page ISS “report outlines the nature and implications of Gulf soft power on Horn countries, and the opportunities and limits it presents for promoting peace, security and development.” Download on https://issafrica.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/EAR-46-1.pdf.

Ethiopia: The government’s and the opposition’s vision of “national dialogue” are diametrically opposed. “As a severely divided society, a sustained and relational dialogue might lay the foundation for reconciliation among Ethiopia’s diverse social groups.” However, “(i)t is unlikely that such a dialogue can resolve Ethiopia’s political divisions about ‘fundamental national issues.’ The best that can be hoped for is that a ‘conflictual consensus’ will be reached on, among other things, democracy and constitutionalism.” Download the 24-page ISS report on https://issafrica.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/EAR-47-2.pdf

Congo-Kinshasa: Even with UN and other international support, the Congolese army cannot win militarily against the much better equipped M23. Yet Kinshasa’s approach is purely military. Peace cannot be reached without implying Rwanda, the confrontational course Tshisekedi is steering leads nowhere. But escalation and “prioritisation of a populistic military approach over diplomacy and negotiation” may further the chances of some in the elections due in a year’s time. Eastern Congo’s “cocktail of political, diplomatic, humanitarian and military challenges” needs to be “comprehensively addressed”. With state authority generally absent in Congo’s East, “internal reforms that build effective state institutions that can protect the country, its people, and its resources” are what’s needed; “the state must guarantee security, provide justice, fight corruption, generate economic opportunities, and provide socio-political reassurance to people.”

Zambia/Power cuts: Lake Kariba’s low water level causes power outages of up to six hours per day. Despite this, authorities say Zambia will continue to export power. It is hoped that seasonal rains will start filling up the lake in January.
BBC Africa Live 15 December 2022. 14:31