Africa news roundup 12-18 March

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A flag map of Africa (image:courtesy of open clipart-vectors from Pixabay)


Kennedy Agyapong wins defamation suit against Anas Aremeyaw Anas

On Wednesday 15 March 2013, an Accra High Court dismissed a 25 million-defamation (Ghana cedis – US$2.1 million) lawsuit filed by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas against Ghanaian lawmaker cum businessman Kennedy Agyapong in 2018. According to the lawsuit filed by Anas’ lawyers, Agyapong defamed him in a documentary he aired on various platforms titled “Who watches the watchman”. Anas pleaded with the court to award damages against Agyapong and compelled him to clear his name. However, the High Court, presided over by Justice Eric Baah, held that Anas had failed to prove that Ken Agyapong defamed him by airing the documentary. In the court’s view, the documentary in question rather exposed shady deals that Anas and his associates were involved in.

In a lengthy ruling, the court said that Agyapong had provided sufficient evidence to prove that Anas used the findings of his work to solicit money from persons implicated in the evidence gathered during his investigations. It added that the video also proved that those who were able to pay the sums of money demanded by Anas and his associates were excluded from videos that were shown to the public. The judge went on further to chastise Anas saying what he and his associates engaged in could not be called investigative journalism but rather investigative terrorism and that Agyapong was justified to call Anas “a blackmailer, corrupt, an extortionist, and evil”. “I find the claims by the plaintiff meritless and they are hereby dismissed”, Justice Baah said.

An investigative work by Anas dubbed “Number 12” exposed corruption in Ghana football and captured the then Ghana Football Association president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, taking bribes from the undercover journalists. Reacting to the High Court ruling, member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong expressed joy over his victory against the Anas Aremeyaw Anas defamation suit. Agyapong also dedicated the victory to Nyantakyi. He said his legal victory over Anas is a victory for Nyantakyi.


Army returns to peacekeeping operations

Nigeria has rejoined the United Nations peacekeeping operations after pulling out due to insurgency ravaging the country. In 2013, the country withdrew troops from UN missions in Mali and Sudan to beef up security in the country. The UN peacekeeping representative, Kieran Dwyer, in a 2013 interview said two battalions of troops were withdrawn from the missions. “We can confirm that Nigeria has officially notified [UN peacekeeping] of its intention to withdraw some of its troops – up to two battalions – from UNAMID”, he said. However, research shows no fewer than 640 soldiers were deployed between July 2021 and May 2022 by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari. In a statement on Wednesday 15 March 2023 by the acting head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, Nigeria was inducted back into the UN peacekeeping mission on 15 March 2023.

The statement was titled, “Nigeria returns to UN Peacekeeping Operations after years of absence as UNISFA marks one year of reconfiguration into a multinational peacekeeping force”. On 15 March the Nigerian Base Defence Company was deployed into UNISFA to join the rest of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force. The induction of the Nigerian UN Peacekeepers completes the eight-contingent member troops contributing countries in UNISFA. Speaking during the parade held to commemorate the first anniversary of UNISFA, Sawyerr said that despite initial challenges, the force had been able to achieve its mandate by protecting civilians and engaging with the two host governments as well as the host communities to encourage dialogue. He said that he appreciated the cooperation and collaboration of the local administration and the traditional institutions in forging a peaceful dialogue that would lead to the determination of the final status of Abyei. He commended the “support of the UN Headquarters for high-level visits, budgetary allocations, and logistics support and praised the AFPs, humanitarian agencies, and NGOs for their support in delivering humanitarian assistance to the communities”.

South Africa

Jazz legend Gloria Bosman passes on

South African jazz musician Gloria Bosman has died. The talented musician is said to have passed away peacefully in her home. According to a statement released by her family, Bosman was surrounded by her loved ones in her final moments. “Gloria had devoted her life, not just to her family, but to her music, she was loved and adored by many in South Africa and beyond its borders”. The Soweto-born Bosman was praised for her soothing, silky vocals and versatility in crossing over to various music genres. Latest to pay tribute to the legend is South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party saying the country’s music industry will be poorer without her. “Bosman was part of a generation of female musical greats who refused to submit to patriarchal stereotypes in a male-dominated industry. She was a fiery and militant revolutionary in the creative sector,” the ANC said in a statement.

South African jazz legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse was among the first to express sadness at her passing, tweeting that he was “sad, gutted and shattered.”  Bosman started singing in church and theaters, but a scholarship to study opera at the then-Pretoria Technikon (now Tshwane University of Technology) was crucial in her development as an artist. She returned to perform at the educational institution later in her career. The award-winning musician’s first album Tranquility was released in 1999, winning her the Best Newcomer Award at the South African Music Awards. Her career took off and later she won a second Sama awards and 11 nominations, won two Africa-wide Kora awards, and performed on many stages across the world.


US vows to protect LGBTQ+ community in Kenya

According to the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, the United States will safeguard the rights of the LGBTQ community. In a tweet on Tuesday, Whitman said the US would continue to promote human rights and equality of LGBTQ persons. “Over the past week my team and I met with the LGBTQI+ community and stakeholders to support the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons,” said Whitman. “The US proudly advances efforts to protect LGBTQI+ persons from discrimination and violence and will continue to stand up for human rights and equality,” she added.

Whitman’s statement comes at a time when the Kenyan Government as well as religious leaders have opposed the Supreme Court ruling which allowed for the registration of LGBTQ organizations in the country. However, on 3 March 2023, Whitman assured that the US would not interfere with Kenya’s position on the LGBTQ issue saying every country is at liberty to make their own decisions on how to deal with gay rights. “We respect every country’s point of view on what position they want to take on this but of course our democratic values and the way we feel is different and that’s okay, because countries are different,” she said.


President Weah mandates appointed officials with political ambitions to resign

President George Weah has directed all government officials who wish to contest elective positions in the impending 10 October 2023, Presidential and Legislative Elections to resign on or before 7 April 2023. The president’s order contained in Executive Order #117, issued Tuesday 14 March 2023, is consistent with amended Sections 5.2 and 10.2 of the 2014 Code of Conduct enacted, approved and printed in handbills on 29 December 2022. According to Weah, the objectives of the Code of Conduct is to dissociate the fiduciary duty of trust, integrity and loyalty owed by public officials to the people from their personal desires to contest elections at the expense of public resources.

Sections of the presidential statement reads: “The Act provides that all officials appointed by the president including all cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers consuls, superintendents of counties and other government officials, both military and civilian, appointed by the President pursuant to Article 56(a) of the 1986 Constitution, and any managing director, deputy managing director, assistant managing director of corporation owned by the Government of Liberia, any commissioner, deputy and assistant commissioner of any commission established by the Legislature, and any official of the Government who negotiates and executes contracts, procures goods and services, and/or manages assets for and on behalf of the Government of Liberia, who desires to canvass or contest for an elective public office within the Government of Liberia shall resign his or her position one (1) year before the date on which the election for the post for which he/she intends to contest”. The Constitution vests the president executive power to issue executive orders in the public interest, either to meet an emergency or to correct situations that cannot wait the lengthy legislative process.

Sierra Leone

New Electoral Commission boss for Northwest Region takes oath of office

Newly appointed commissioner for the northwest region the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL), Albert Samba Kanu, has taken his oath of office before President Dr Julius Maada Bio. Delivering his acceptance speech, Kanu thanked the president for the confidence reposed in him, adding that he was aware of the importance of that national assignment and assured the president of his best output. He also promised to do his work according to the law.

President Bio congratulated Kanu saying that his job was no mean task and that he should brace himself for the challenges associated with it. He used the occasion to admonish citizens to be peaceful and law-abiding during and after the electoral process. “Elections should be peaceful, and the rules should be clear to all citizens. It is the responsibility of the National Electoral Commission to ensure the rules are clear for all to understand,” he said. The President also cautioned those who intended to create chaos during the election process, adding that if anyone was caught, they would face the full force of the law.


Tanzania’s first female president applauds political tolerance

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan said, as the country’s first female leader, she has brought a new level of political tolerance to the nation. Addressing a gathering of more than 3,000 women on international women’s day, she indicated the level of tolerance being enjoyed under her regime. “The opposition is lucky that it is a woman president in charge because if a misunderstanding occurs, I will stand for peace and make the men settle their egos”, she said amid cheers, singing and dancing.

Hassan shared the platform with the chairman of the main opposition party, Chadema Freeman Mbowe. He said Hassan’s agreement to attend the opposition event elicited mixed reactions because the country experienced “fear, hate and mistrust” under Tanzania’s previous leader. Mbowe was repeatedly arrested during former President John Magufuli’s administration and was only released after Hassan came to power. Hassan was vice president under Magufuli and succeeded him when he died in 2021. She has been accused of continuing her predecessor’s anti-democratic policies, but she lifted a six-year-old ban on opposition rallies in January.


Eswatini Air to begin operations this month

Eswatini Air is to commence flights at the end of this month. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s travel and tourism industry. As a revamped operation, Eswatini Air is taking a cautious approach to ensure a smooth entry in the market. As such, it is introducing its service in four phases. The launch phase is between the King Mswati III International and Johannesburg, South Africa, operating two flights per day effective 26 March. The second phase is the flight to Harare, Zimbabwe, effective 14 April and offering four flights per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The third phase, flights to Durban, South Africa, will be added to the schedule effective 5 May 2023, offering a flight each day of the week. Phase III also includes the introduction of a third daily flight between King Mswati III and Johannesburg. The final launch phase entails addition of Cape Town, South Africa to the route network effective 2 June. Cape Town flights will be operated three times per week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. “The reservations and ticketing system is now open for bookings and ticket purchases,” Eswatini Tourism confirmed. Eswatini Air was formerly known as the Royal Eswatini National Airways Corporation.


Truck rams into classroom killing three students

Three students have been confirmed dead with several others injured following a fatal accident at Kasaka Secondary School in Gomba after a truck driver rammed into one of the buildings on Tuesday afternoon. The accident happened at around 3:30 pm on Wednesday 15 March  2023 when the driver of Sino truck lost control of the vehicle and veered into the school computer Lab that was occupied by students and killed three on the spot. Eighteen other students were injured in the process and were immediately moved to the nearby medical facilities to receive treatment.

Mr Kefasi Katumba, the head teacher of the school said that the driver of the ill-fated Sinotruk truck first hit the school gate before crashing into the computer lab and Senior Four West classroom. “The driver seems to have failed to negotiate the corner and thought the truck would stop if he hit the school gate. Unfortunately, it just continued moving, crashing into the computer lab where it killed two students on the spot and injured several others,” he said. Management of the school has, reportedly, sent other students home until next Monday as they recover from shock following the tragedy.


Finance minister upbeat about debt agreement

Zambia’s Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane says the country is working hard with creditors, including China, in order to agree to a debt restructuring programme by the end of March or shortly afterwards. Musokotwane China, Zambia’s largest bilateral creditor, was being engaged on the debt restructuring with bilateral engagements on an almost weekly basis.

Zambia’s external debt stood at $14.87 billion at the end of June 2022. According to the minister, government data indicates that at the end of 2021, Chinese lenders accounted for almost $6 billion of debt. Zambia was the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the restructuring of its external debts to creditors including China and Eurobond holders has been greatly delayed.


Nearly 200 people confirmed dead

Nearly 200 people have been confirmed dead in Malawi after the devastating tropical cyclone, Freddy, tore through the southern African nation for the second time in a month. As the rain continues to fall, rescue workers struggle to find both the dead and survivors in the mud. The death toll is expected to rise. There has been extensive damage to infrastructure and homes, power and communications are still down in many affected areas, and an estimated 19,000 people have been displaced by the heavy rains that triggered floods and mudslides.

The United Nations said the lack of power and communications is hindering aid operations and with most of affected regions still inaccessible, the full extent of the damage remains unknown. Humanitarian medical care organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, has warned that the region’s hospital is “overwhelmed by the influx of injured people”. The NGO fears that the number of cholera cases will increase in the country, which is already struggling with the deadliest infectious disease it has ever known. President Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday declared a “state of disaster” in the country’s southern region and the now-ravaged commercial capital, Blantyre. Meteorologists project that Freddy will continue to thump southern Malawi and central Mozambique with extreme rainfall before it exits back to the sea late Wednesday afternoon.


Opposition holds rally against corruption

Gambian protesters are gathering to march against corruption through the capital Banjul after a youth group affiliated with the main opposition party called for a demonstration. Lawyer Ousainu Darboe, the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), in a WhatsApp audio had earlier called on supporters to be peaceful ahead of a corruption demonstration slated for Friday. The UDP Youth Wing recently applied for a police permit for a peaceful procession against corruption. This came after several allegations of corruption were reported about government institutions and other local government councils.

Lawyer Darboe called on Gambians to be part of the peaceful demonstration starting from Jah oil in Banjul to the National Assembly in Banjul. He pointed out that when this kind of activity happens, some criminals always want to capitalize on the occasion to get involved in the crowd and act unlawfully and be destructive. However, the UDP leader said they would be very vigilant  in regard to those people while calling on the police to also help in identifying such criminals. The country’s biggest opposition leader emphasized that everyone knows that UDP is a law-abiding party, calling on the party militants to follow the rule of law, ignore insults and other confrontations.

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