Top of the Blogs 2017 (2)

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Top of the Blogs 2017 #10

This week’s Top of the Blogs is about presidents and social media. In an interview DR Congo’s presidential candidate Moïse Katumbi describes his plans to win the elections – from exile. South Africa’s president Zuma is also concerned about giving up power as he needs to avoid possible prosecution from a range of alleged crimes. Blogger Pierre de Vos explains why he’ll probably never face prosecution although there is no legal way for his amnesty. Meanwhile the presidential election campaigning in Kenya is seeing an unexpected wave of fake news trying to manipulate voters. Ghana thus has learned from its elections in 2016 and is pushing forward the idea that social media opens new spaces for public debate.

An interview with Moïse Katumbi, DR Congo’s would-be president
In this interview Moïse Katumbi, presidential candidate in DR Congo, explains what he would do differently from current president Joseph Kabila if he was elected. Katumbi is very popular among Congolese. “If free and fair elections were held, he probably would be president,” blogger James Wan writes. However president Kabila postponed the elections which were supposed to be held in December 2016 and Katumbi had to flee into exile in Brussels. Katumbi doesn’t have a date yet when he will be back in the country, he said in the interview. But he’s preparing a democratic change because president Kabila has no constitutional support to stay in office any longer.

Amnesty for President Zuma? No, it is not legally possible
In his latest article law scholar and blogger Pierre de Vos explains legal possibilities for South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma to avoid prosecution for all the crimes he is alleged to have committed. ANC presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu recently raised the possibility of granting President Jacob Zuma amnesty. Although de Vos only sees one legally valid option which would be for an incoming President to pardon Zuma after he had been convicted of his alleged crimes, the law scholar remains sceptical that President Zuma will ever be prosecuted. He is not convinced that the South African institutions are politically strong enough to mount such a prosecution.

WhatsApp and Facebook are driving Kenya’s fake news cycle
A lot of fake news stories are spread in Kenya via social media networks like Facebook and WhatsApp, roughly two weeks before the country holds a contested general election. Political campaigners, journalists and government officials are concerned about the prevalence and impact of fake news. According to a study by Portland and GeoPoll 90% of Kenyans had heard or seen false stories related to the election. This leads to the conclusion that deliberate spreading of false information is now a core part of the news mix in Kenya. However respondents said they didn’t fully trust information shared on networks like Facebook and WhatsApp. Mainstream media outlets like television, newspapers, and radio were rated as more trustworthy.

Ghana's Social Media Scene Opens New Spaces for Public Debate
During the 2016 Ghanaian presidential elections social media and online platforms became crucial avenues for the electorate. Engaging voters in digital spaces became as important as speaking in public. Furthermore it's not just politicians who have got to know its advantages. Civil society also uses the medium to demand good public services writes blogger Kofi Yeboah. Recently the think tank Imani Africa hosted a forum in the capital Accra to discuss ‘Governance in the Age of Social Media’ focusing on Ghana and Switzerland. Swiss President Doris Leuthard spoke at the forum. She gave an example of how her government has created accessible online platforms to enable citizens.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #9

This week’s Top of the Blogs is all about empowerment of citizens. The first three blog posts all discuss obstacles a (so-called) democratic society has to face. Be it the implementation of fair elections, the acceptance of an apparent unpopular vote or the way a child becomes an engaged citizen. The fourth story tells us about a woman who has empowered herself and become the first female mine-owner in West Africa.

Rwanda’s election outcome is already decided
“More of a coronation than real contest,” author Filip Reyntjens quotes the Kenyan daily The Standard in his blog post about Rwanda’s presidential poll slated for 4th August. A constitutional amendment was made in 2015 concerning presidential term lengths. The changes effectively allow President Paul Kagame to stay in power until 2034, by which time he would have ruled Rwanda for 40 years. All this is underscored by the latest Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) report in which Rwanda got a mere two out of ten for “free and fair elections” and “effective power to govern”, and three for “association/assembly rights” and “freedom of expression”.

Democracy – the worst form of government…
A short, but crisp piece by Jacques Rousseau, lecturer at the University of Cape Town. He argues that “you can’t like democracy only when you happen to agree with the decisions taken by an electorate”. Taking the Brexit as an example he makes clear that Parliament would be acting without a mandate if it were to ignore the vote. Even though there were many opinions about what went wrong with campaigning, the simple majority vote and uninformed voters to explain the decision away. However in a democracy one respects the voter’s will, no matter what, says Rousseau.

Malawi set out to give students skills to support democracy. But it’s not been easy
Raising children to be democratic citizens is not an easy task, especially in a patriarchal society like in Malawi. Author Peter Ngwinjo W. Namphande, lecturer at the University of Malawi describes a big gap in what pupils are taught about democracy and what they experience in reality. Children are brought up to conform to dictates of adults and are cautioned against questioning their decisions. A further consequence is that students will acquiesce to authoritarian practices from people in positions of authority. This may facilitate the resilience of autocratic practices – in schools and beyond, Namphande speculates. To tackle this problem he suggests that teachers should be sensitised to resolve tensions between the roles of students as young citizens and as children.

West Africa’s first Woman to own a Mine
From modelling to mining: quite a change in daily business, but Guinean Tiguidanke Camara has become West Africa’s first woman to own a mine. The entrepreneur who has been ranked by France’s weekly Jeune Afrique among the 50 most influential businesswomen in Francophone Africa, has also become a role model in a region where more than 80% of girls are illiterate. Furthermore she supports women’s co-operatives and business associations.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #8

The morning after
Blogger John Campbell gives an overview on the happenings and reactions in South Africa, after the cabinet reshuffle performed by President Jacob Zuma, and the national protests that followed. He also gives an outlook on political actions, made by the ruling party and opposition, which may occur. Especially for the ruling ANC, the vote of no confidence seems to be a lose-lose situation.

The girl child is not weak or less smart
Girls and women in African countries like Kenya and Uganda have to deal with a various number of problems in their daily lives. The dropout rate for instance, is significantly higher amongst girls, than amongst their male counterparts. One big contributor is the poor management of the monthly menstruation cycle. Although successful and emancipated women like Julia Sebutinde and Margaret Mungherera show that the female gender is not inferior at all. An important future task must be, to credit women and girls the same skills and status as the male population.

Uganda: Stella Nyanzi charged for calling President Museveni a “pair of buttocks”
A debate ignited between academic Stella Nyanzi and Janet Museveni, Ugandas Minster of Education and First Lady, because the Minister denied providing free sanitary pads to school girls. Stella Nyanzi called, thereupon, for demonstrations against Museveni and called her a “pair of buttocks”. As a result, the academic was charged and has been subjected to a travel ban, she also lost her job as a fellow researcher at the University and her family was intimidated. Author Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire considers this procedure as a violation of Nyanzis human rights.

African migrants are being sold as slaves in open markets in Libya
African migrants trying to reach Europe by way of Libya are being sold at so called “slave markets.” The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that, depending on their skills and therefore their value, they get auctioned off in car parks, garages and public squares. According to the chief IOM spokesman in Geneva, migrants who go to Libya while trying to get to Europe, have no idea about the torture that awaits them just over the border.

All our faves are problematic
Bloggerin Sisonke Msimang introduces the book "Purple Hibiscus", written by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, a Nigerian writer, who now partly lives in the USA. The author writes about feminism, her home country Nigeria and other topics. She inspired readers like Msimang. Nevertheless, Blogger Msimang takes her as an example to criticize the #Blackgirlsmagic movement, which is supposed to support and encourage black females, but only takes sophisticated women like Michelle Obama as examples. She encourages people to not only focus on successful role models, but also take normal people into consideration.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #7

Nationwide anti-Zuma marches
Since South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet last week, including axing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the public’s reaction has been thick and fast. Today South Africans are gathering for nationwide demonstrations against the President. Those not attending will be following the live blogs:,,

Want To Get Rich? – Join Politics
The decision of Zambia’s ruling and opposition parties to award a monthly allowance to ward councilors across the country and the opposition UPND Members of Parliament boycotting President Edgar Lungu’s State of Nation address, prompted #Africablogging’s Bruce Chooma to call for a fresh reflection on this matter. African politicians like Jacob Zuma and Edgar Lungu earn an unreasonably high salary compared to the average income of the population as well as other international politicians. Chooma suspects many people only choose the profession of politican because of personal enrichment, rather than for serving the country.

In Rural Mozambique, Bank-Funded Irrigation Systems Bring Back Life and Hope to Small Farmers
Droughts, a lack of irrigation systems, soil salinization and increasing production costs plunged many Mozambique farmers into ruin. The World Bank is now supporting the government of Mozambique’s Sustainable Irrigation Development Project (PROIRRI), providing around $70 million in financing. Newly built canals use gravity to encourage a flow of water along the fields, covering 20 times the area initially irrigated. The project covers the provinces Sofala, Manica and Zambezia and gives farmers in Mosambique hope for a better future.

Inhumane Oddities to Zimbabwean Life. Thanks to State and Private Capitalism.
Africanblogging contributor Takura Zhangazha suspects Zimbabwean ambulances value money over the lives of their patients. The blogger writes about a comrade who was recently involved in a car accident as a pedestrian, and had to call an ambulance. Instead of asking medical relevant questions, the paramedics were mainly interested in his medical aid scheme. Zhangazha calls for readers to take this incident as a reminder to grant their fellow citizens the respect and appreciation they deserve.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #6

U.S. Shoots Itself in the Foot over Visas for Africans
The annual African Global Economic and Development Summit, hosted by the University of Southern California, sets out to bring together business, government, and others interested in US-African trade and investment. However, actual communication and exchange was not possible this year, since, according to the Voice of America (VOA), all Africans that had been invited or applied to attend were denied US visas, including speakers and African government officials. If the Department of State budget is cut by up to thirty percent, as the Trump administration proposes, the current unfavorable situation will probably get worse.

Surviving the Water
Floods are a devastating problem in Nigeria. In September last year, a flood left the Anambra state in ruin. The 2012 Nigeria floods alone killed over 100 people and the damages displaced over 2 million. Blogger Adaora Okoye believes that self-help is the best measure to prepare the population for such natural disasters. She suggests the introduction of preparation seminars to educate people about potential safety measures, which could eventually make the difference to survival chances.

Anger, Ideology and Political Activism in Zimbabwe
Past, present and possibly the emerging realities of activism in Zimbabwe are discussed by #Africanblogging contributor Takura Zhangazha. Instead of being guided by the anger of those involved, activism must be based on a definitive framework. Zhangazha sees a problem in the politicization of activism, but believes that the solution consists in incremental small changes, instead of big modifications.

Africa’s teeming unemployed youth are making risky bets on their future
TwinKas is a new so-called “investment plan” booming in Nigeria. It promises quick prosperity and wealth for its members. Even though thousands of Nigerians have lost money from investing in pyramid schemes, there’s never a shortage of others willing to enroll when new schemes pop up. While online-gambling via smartphone flourishes in Kenya, Uganda’s gambling businesses are made mainly on soccer at local betting shops. Because of the teeming unemployment rate in African countries, gambling and pyramid schemes are often mistaken as a profitable business model.

Gender dysphoria and gender reassignment
Is a child able to make the decision about a gender reassignment? This topic is addressed by #Africanblogging contributor Jacques Rousseau. He shows how difficult it is to respect a child’s autonomy and decisions on the one hand, and to not overestimate their maturity and farsightedness on the other hand. According to Rousseau, the solution can only be to look at each individual case, to evaluate psychologically and to keep irreversible

Top of the Blogs 2017 #5

Responding to Trump’s ‘discoarse’? An African humanist philosophy may be the way
Where do we draw the line between free speech and unchecked speech? Using US president Donald Trump and South African president Jacob Zuma as examples, Leyla Tavernaro-Haidarian shows how difficult it is to distinguish between the two. She points out that it depends significantly on one’s subjective perception. According to her, Prof. Thad Metz might have the solution for this controversy. The humanist believes that it is justifiable to proportionally violate the personhood of a figure of public interest, if it serves the purpose of calling out a harmful act.

Helen Zille and 'valuable aspects of colonial heritage'
Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, controversially appealed via twitter not to neglect the positive aspects of colonialism, such as independent justice, infrastructure and piped water. Blogger Jacques Rousseau criticizes the statements of the politician as an attempt at justifying colonialism and its consequences for South Africa. He points out that it is not possible to estimate the country's potential developments and progress without the influence of colonialism, since this is a counterfactual condition.

The Politics of Good Cops and Bad Cops in Tanzania
Blogger Chambi Chachage suspects the divergences between Tanzania’s president John Magufuli and the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs to be no more than a put-up job. After the ministers “no birth certificate, no marriage” order raised indignation, the president rescinded the order saying he did not know about it. Chachage doubts whether this is the case or if Magufuli just took advantage of the favourable situation to make himself popular.

Sensitivity in the age of the internet meme
Social media networks as a part of our daily lives led to the rise of the internet meme, which describes the internet phenomena of sharing more or less comical images, paired with matching subtitles and comments for entertainment purposes. Author Koketso Moeti appeals to the creators and spreaders of those memos to question the backgrounds of the photos. It is very important to ensure that the photos haven’t been used abusively, since many of these images got taken in very different contexts and could, paired with the comments and subtitles, humiliate the illustrated people.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #4

Kenya’s protracted health crisis is an indictment on the country’s leadership
The nationwide doctors’ strike in Kenya seems unending. For over 90 days, striking doctors have been demanding the full implementation of a contentious collective bargaining agreement. Neither President Uhuru Kenyatta or his Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu, nor the ministry’s Principal Secretary William Ruto found it to be necessary to attend the negotiations process with the doctors union officials. Instead, Dr. Cleopa Mailu, in total disregard for the law that prohibits public servants from engaging in politics, was actively involved in monitoring voter registration.

Rashida Mulenga: Kalulushi Mayor with an ambitious plan
Last year Rashida Mulenga was elected mayor of Kalulushi, a town in Zambia's copperbelt province. At 33 years old she is one of the youngest mayors in Zambia, as well as one of very few female councillors in Kalulushi. The ambiguous woman, who is the mother of seven children and studied Business Administration in South Africa, wants to transform her city into an industrial town. Her plan is to relocate the Central Business district to the eastern part of the town, move most government departments and start to construct shopping malls and hotels.

Fake News is about Journalism, not Social Media
Is journalism in Africa threatened by fake news? Late last year rumours about the death of Malawi’s president Peter Mutharika began spreading on social media and some questionable online news channels. The fake news was caused by a lack of communication on the whereabouts of the President in the weeks after the UN General Assembly gathering in the USA. #AfricaBlogging author Jimmy Kainja points out that fake news is much more dangerous when coming from the official news media and social media should not bear the blame as this lazy thinking could lead to further oppression by autocratic governments.

Youth Accountability in the East African Community
According to blogger Kamal Dickson, integration as an aspirational process and progressive goal is in the hands of East Africa’s youth, since young people in the East African Community (EAC) constitute more than 63% of the population. Dickson himself is the Youth Ambassador of Tanzania and is convinced that the East African youth are not engaged enough in decision-making bodies and the development agenda. He calls on Job Ndugai, the current Speaker of the Tanzanian Parliament, to make sure that the youth will to be sufficiently represented at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

Top of the Blog 2017 #3

The struggle to end female genital mutilation in Africa
200 million women live with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM), the majority of them in Africa. Author Rakotomalala explains this cruel, centuries-old tradition of female genital mutilation. People practicing the ritual believe that a woman’s sexuality can be controlled by removing parts of the genitalia, so that she will be a good wife. The consequences on the affected women’s sexual health are considered a crime against humanity. The origin of the problem is ignorance and a lack of information about the danger of circumcision.

What the rest of Africa really thinks about South Africa
South Africa is considered to be the gateway into the continent and has mediated between North and global South in recent years. Surprisingly, research conducted by the University of Pretoria found that other African countries don’t always appreciate the self-declared role as a spokesperson for the continent. They criticize how South Africa seems to isolate itself and it doesn’t act like a part of the continent, following only its own economic interest.

Get Rich or Die Trying: The Chinese multinational scamming millions from Ugandans
James Wan wrote a detailed and vivid report on TIENS in Uganda – a Chinese company that claims to be able to diagnose diseases and sells herbal medicine originating from China. TIENS entered the Ugandan market in 2003 and has an annual turnover of about $6million. The company seems to fulfill the needs of a problematic healthcare system in Uganda. Hundreds of patients consult them every day, buy expensive products and believe the diagnoses from doctors who make no secret of not having any education.

Mobile Phones offer a new way for Africa’s students to learn programming
Access to laptop computers remains difficult in most universities in Africa. This is a problem especially for programming students who need to practice their acquired skills. IT is a growing job field worldwide, which is why African students have to be taught reasonably. Chao Mbogo is a Kenyan teacher of Computer Science – she claims that programming can be practiced using a smartphone and has analysed the advantages of mobile devices for programming in a study.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #2

Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh emptied the state’s coffers on his way out
There are good and bad news for Gambia’s people these days: The good news is that former state president Yahya Jammeh has finally set out to exile in Equatorial Guinea after the delegation of West African leaders ECOWAS forced him to step down. Lynsey Chutel highlights the bad news in her latest blog article: Jammeh leaves the country with an estimated 11 million dollars after having emptied the treasuries of the government to fill his own pockets. His successor Adam Barrow has to face financial distress right at the start of his presidential mandate.

Cameroon, the Way forward: Unity in Diversity
Cameroon’s cultural diversity is outstanding – it has more than 200 tribes and about 150 linguistic groups. Apart from Canada, it is the only country that has both English and French a national languages. Anne Marie Befoune explains why this leads to a worrisome split within the nation. Public services as well as presidential speeches are delivered in French only and all important political activities happen in the French-speaking provinces. English-speakers feel excluded, are ridiculed and often just called “Anglos”. Befoune criticizes the government for not acknowledging the conflict in the society and discusses ideas to solve it.

Three lessons about Burundi’s crisis from speaking to those who fled it
300.000 people have left their home country Burundi and sought asylum in one of the neighboring countries Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. The Burundian government finds the country stable enough for a policy of returns. International officials are more than willing to believe this. How do the affected refugees think about it? Richard Moncrieff depicts the findings of a survey that interviewed political opponents living in exile. Many refugees were threatened by the police or the ruling party’s militia because they didn’t agree with the government. According to them, Burundi is anything but politically stable and still far too dangerous to go back.

How Kenya can ensure adequate health care for its older people
Society is aging worldwide. Lucy Maina asks health editor Joy Wanja Muraya in an interview: What are the consequences of this demographic change for Kenya? Life expectancy in Africa has increased due to an improved health care system and more diverse nutrition, but the continent is not adequatelty prepared for this development. The risks for an aging society are the lack of income security and inadequate health services. This holds true for Kenya as well. Muraya underlines the necessity of improved health care equipment and a public insurance scheme. So far the families take care of older people, but this won’t be a long-term solution.

Top of the Blogs 2017 #1

South Africa’s next president might be a woman, but that isn’t the only change we need
Post-apartheid South Africa seems willing to make history with two female front-runners in the next presidential election. Lynsey Chutel introduces the two candidates who’ve both already held important positions within ANC party ranks. Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma is not only the ex-wife of current president Jacob Zuma, she also served as minister of foreign affairs and home affairs and is currently Chair of the African Union Commission. Her opponent Baleka Mbete also looks back on a long political career and currently holds the position of speaker of parliament. Nevertheless, the author questions both women’s suitability, due to their involvement in corruption scandals, and reminds her readers that not gender but personality should decide the race.

Dear EPL, UEFA and global media, for us Africans, AFCON is not a backwater tournament
The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) started with a colorful and diverse opening ceremony in Gabon on January 14. Zimbabwean civil society activist Takura Zhangazha underlines the pride and happiness of Africans to celebrate the event, although the rest of the world sometimes underestimates African football. It is therefore not surprising that international media often belittles AFCON by diminishing the sporting capacities of the continent, without even knowing much about the background of the event. In comparison with European clubs, African teams don’t possess great financial resources and consequently have to do without some of their best players, who are under contract in foreign leagues.

Mozambique’s unexpected truce still hangs in the balance
The tense atmosphere in Mozambican politics seems to loosen a bit, after president Felipe Nyusi and opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama agreed on a ceasefire at the end of 2016. Justin Pearce, Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, looks at the conflict between Frelimo government and the Renamo opposition movement and how it has developed in recent years. International mediators and organizations willing to help settle the dispute recently left the country without having made any progress. It remains open whether the truce will merge into peace or declared void by one of the opponents, since the roots of the conflict continue to exist.

Kenyans fear a possible internet shutdown during 2017 presidential elections
Looking at tweets by public persons as well as ordinary citizen, civil-journalist Njeri Wangari depicts the discussion about a possible shutdown of social media during the elections in Kenya in August 2017. With a view on the ongoing rumors, Wangari provides background information about new laws that have been drafted in order to regulate online communication. The debate is controversial and complex, increasingly so as 60 journalists have already been arrested in recent years due to their online activities.