Africa news roundup 26 March to 1 April

Africa G6ec376944 1280
A flag map of Africa (image:courtesy of open clipart-vectors from Pixabay)


Kamala Harris wraps up visit

Vice President of the United States of America Kamala Harris has wrapped up her visit to Ghana. During her visit, she met President Nana Akufo-Addo, participated in a state banquet, given a speech to young people about innovation and women’s empowerment, and visited a ‘slave castle’ that was the last stop for thousands of Africans sold into the transatlantic slave trade. Harris also met with Ghanaian women entrepreneurs to discuss economic empowerment and leadership before heading to Tanzania to continue her week-long African tour.

Harris is the latest US government figure to visit African countries, after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as Washington strives to counter the growing Chinese and Russian influence on the African continent. She left Ghana on Wednesday and flew to the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar Es Salaam, where she was greeted by Vice President Philip Mpango. She met President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday.


Civil societies continue to protest election results one month later

Nearly five weeks after the presidential elections, Nigerian civil society organizations have been holding daily protests to pressure the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Nigerian authorities to review the February and March elections. The presidential, gubernatorial and parliamentary polls were marred by pockets of violence leading to deaths, injuries, voter suppression and intimidation. On Monday, police said more than 700 people had been arrested for disrupting elections and will be prosecuted according to law.

Daily demonstrations calling for accountability in the electoral system began last week. Nigerians went to the polls to elect a new president, state governors and lawmakers. International observers say the elections were characterized by widespread violence, voter suppression and intimidation, and technical problems. Protesters say INEC was too quick to declare winners, despite the obvious challenges. They also say the commission failed to honour its promise to electronically transmit results during the presidential polls. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared the winner of February’s presidential elections.

South Africa

Oscar Pistorius up for parole in girlfriend murder case

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius might be released from prison this year, a decade after he was convicted for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model. A parole board is to decide whether Pistorius should be let out early, after a hearing in Pretoria on Friday. “The board must determine whether the purpose of imprisonment has been served,” said Department of Correctional Services’ spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo.

Pistorius, who is now 36, shot Steenkamp dead, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, when he fired four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria house. He pleaded not guilty and denied that he killed Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar. Known worldwide as the “Blade Runner” because of his carbon-fibre prosthetics, he was sentenced to 13 years behind bars. Offenders in South Africa are automatically eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.


Violent clashes emerge as opposition stage third day of protest

Violence broke out in Kenya on Thursday, the third day of opposition demonstrations to protest at the government and the high cost of living. Security was tight, with police in riot gear patrolling the capital, Nairobi, after fierce clashes erupted during similar protests on Monday. On Thursday, dozens of people in the congested neighbourhoods of Mathare and Kibera engaged police in running battles, throwing rocks and burning tyres while officers responded with tear gas.

In Opposition Leader Raila Odinga’s lakeside bastions of Kisumu and Homa Bay in western Kenya, protesters also hurled rocks at police and lit bonfires in the middle of the road. Odinga has called for protests every Monday and Thursday, accusing President William Ruto of stealing last year’s election and of failing to control the surging cost of living. The demonstrations – declared illegal by the government – had turned violent on previous days, with police firing tear gas, water cannon and occasionally live bullets, while looters have gone on the rampage. So far, two civilians have been killed and 51 police officers and 85 civilians injured.


Pirates take over Liberia-flagged oil tanker

An oil tanker showing Liberia’s flag as its identity-marker and carrying 16 crew members was, reportedly, taken over by pirates in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. According to the Danish vessel owner, the attack took place southwest of Port Pointe-Noire in Congo. The Monjasa Reformer “experienced an emergency situation” late Saturday, Monjasa, the Denmark-based company that owns the ship, said in an official statement. The company spokesperson, Thorstein Andreasen, said that the crew sought refuge in a citadel, in line with the training apparatus to deal with piracy-related eventualities.

Communication channels with the ship are down and international authorities have been alerted, said the statement. The exact location of the tanker is not known. The Gulf of Guinea is widely attributed to be the world’s most dangerous spot for attacks on ships. In June, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning piracy, armed robbery and hostage-taking in the area.

Sierra Leone

Stakeholders call for peace ahead of 2023 general elections

With barely three months to the general elections, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Freetown Edward Tamba Charles has urged Sierra Leoneans to preserve the dignity of the country. Sierra Leoneans have the opportunity to make their country a better place by electing good leaders on June 24, Tamba Charles said. He urged the electorate in the West African nation to vote wisely in the country’s general elections, “We are barely three months to elections in June when we shall have the opportunity to elect those who will manage the affairs of our country for five years. It is not for me as a bishop or for the Church to tell you which party or individuals to vote for. You are better qualified in that than we are.

He added, “All we appeal to you to do is that you vote wisely and not be led by sentiments and, therefore, to choose or vote for those you think would lead Sierra Leone and its people to experience the dignified life that God intended for us when He created this beautiful country and put us here”. The archbishop, who serves as the president of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL), also appealed to the people to guard against violence before, during, and after the elections, and to allow each other to freely exercise their democratic rights in the polls.


Harris hails Tanzania’s first female president

US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Tanzania on Thursday and praised the country’s first female leader as a “champion” of democracy. Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been in power since 2021 and is the first female leader of the country. Since coming to power President Hassan has been rolling back the authoritarian policies of her late predecessor John Magufuli.

“Madame President under your leadership Tanzania has taken important and meaningful steps and President Joe Biden and I applaud you. You have been open to working with the political opposition, we have discussed that. You have lifted the ban on political party public rallies”, said Harris. The US vice president is on a three-nation trip to Africa, the latest step by the United States to deepen its engagement with the continent to counter the growing influence of China and Russia.


Eswatini denies being debt trapped by Taiwan

The Eswatini Government has denied a report that it committed some public assets as collateral in case the government failed to pay Taiwan loans. Reports say Eswatini took a loan from Taiwan’s Exim Bank for the construction of the International Convention Centre and Five Star Hotel to host government offices and meetings. In a statement on Wednesday, Eswatini’s Economic Planning and Development Minister Thambo Gina said he was not aware of such an agreement, saying Eswatini laws do not allow pledging public assets as collateral for loans. Gina said the report created an “erroneous and regrettable disinformation campaign against a loyal and steadfast ally of the Kingdom of Eswatini”.

“The government of the Kingdom of Eswatini bilateral cooperation with the Government of Taiwan, which dates back to 1968, is above board and conforms to the constitution and the country’s laws”, Gina said. He said the two countries have, over the years, signed periodic agreements to guide the cooperation in agreed areas of mutual interest. Report says Eswatini is the only African state and one of 14 countries worldwide that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan which China regards as a breakaway province. Taiwan and Eswatini are set to celebrate 55 years of diplomatic ties in September.


Corporate groups say Ugandan anti-LGBT bill bad for business

Business giants such as Google says it opposes Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ legislation, calling it “a concern for global businesses and investors operating or planning to invest” in the East African country. The legislation, which prescribes the death penalty or life imprisonment for some homosexual offences, would hurt Uganda’s economy, the Open For Business coalition said in a statement Wednesday. “Diversity and inclusion are core principles of our coalition partners in the conduct of their businesses,” the statement said. The legislation, if signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, “would undermine Uganda’s attractiveness as a place to do business and invest,” it said.

Uganda’s legislature last week passed the anti-homosexuality bill. The legislation is now with Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who can sign it into law or return it to the parliamentary speaker with proposed changes. The bill has wide support in Uganda, including among church leaders. It was introduced last month by an opposition lawmaker who said his goal was to punish the “promotion, recruitment, and funding” of LGBTQ activities in the country. Only two of 389 legislators present for the voting session opposed the bill.


Zambia participates in democracy submit virtually

The second two-day Summit for Democracy was organised by the US and co-hosted by Zambia along with South Korea, Costa Rica and Netherlands.  President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, urged unity among democracies in the face of Russia and China as he committed nearly $700 million to halt global democratic backsliding and forged an alliance against surveillance technology. Biden invited 121 leaders for his second, largely virtual “Summit for Democracy,” including the prime ministers of close US partners Israel and India who both defended their records after charges of creeping authoritarianism.

Local delegates weighed in on the importance of the event. “The US is the oldest democracy that we have, which means that we can also learn not only from the good side but also from the challenges that they are having. So, I just think that it’s a good reference you know. We are not looking for the perfect system but we are looking for a system where we can definitely learn” said Hermenegildo Mulhovo, attendee from Mozambique. First conceived by Biden as a way to restore US credibility after Donald Trump’s norm-shattering presidency and the attack on the US Capitol, the Summit for Democracy has taken on a new urgency as Ukraine fights a Russian invasion.


French Development Agency grants €12.5 million to improve drinking water supply

The French Development Agency (AFD) is providing a €12.5 million grant to the Gambian Government. This financing is intended for the implementation of a drinking water supply project in the Greater Banjul area, the Gambian capital. The grant agreement was signed on 20 March 2023, in advance of World Water Day, which was celebrated on 22 March 2023. The project, which will be launched shortly, aims to improve the supply of drinking water to nearly 900,000 people in the Gambian capital.

Among the works planned are the rehabilitation of eight damaged reservoirs in Greater Banjul, as well as the construction of new elevated and ground water tanks to replace the existing facilities in Serrekunda, with capacities ranging from 500 to 900 m3. As part of the drinking water project, the galvanized panels of three damaged elevated water tanks will also be replaced, as well as those of nine transfer pumps. The transfer pump stations (Brikama North Line and Kotu Ring) will also be upgraded.


Hopes fades as chances of saving victims of Cyclone Freddy grows slim

The death toll from Cyclone Freddy, which dissipated in mid-March after massive flooding and landslides in southern Africa, could exceed 1,200 in Malawi as hopes of finding survivors dwindle, police and authorities said on Thursday. The cyclone killed at least 676 people in Malawi, the epicenter of the disaster. The country’s disaster management department says the chances of finding the 538 missing, more than two weeks after the disaster, have become painfully slim. Search operations with sniffer dogs are continuing in some places, its head Charles Kalemba said on Wednesday, but no longer in hard-hit Blantyre, as the team on the ground has informed us that they have done their best.

“Given the number of days that have passed, the chances of finding people alive are slim, which is why we will wait for the police to declare when we can consider that the missing persons are dead,” Kalemba said. That decision is still premature, police spokesman Harry Namwaza told AFP on Thursday. “The police and the army are continuing the search. When we have completed this process, the time will come to declare the missing presumed dead”. He did not comment on how long the search will take. “It is difficult to say because we are still reaching some places that were previously inaccessible. There is still work to do,” he added.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *