Top of the Blogs 2016 (2)

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Top of the Blogs 2016 #11

New move against Gordhan suggests South Africa’s laws are under threat
South Africa’s elite police unit, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, this week summoned the country’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to appear at its offices to receive a warning statement. The minister is reportedly the prime target of a Hawks investigation into an alleged rogue South African Revenue Service intelligence-gathering unit. Gordhan refused. Most observers see this as part of a plot to oust Gordhan as the country’s finance minister and that the Hawks are acting at the behest of President Jacob Zuma. Writing for the Conversation Africa, Charles Leonard asked Raymond Suttner, professor at Rhodes University to make sense of it all.

Zambia shuts down independent media
On Monday the Zambian government decided to shut down some independent broadcasting houses: Muvi TV, Komboni Radio and Itezhi Tezhi Radio. "This comes a few months after the biggest independent newspaper, The Post, which was very critical of the ruling party and government was ground to a halt for alleged tax violation," writes #AfricaBlogging author Bruce Chooma.

Dear Europe, if you really must re-engage with Eritrea, here’s how you should do it
For many years now, relations between Eritrea and the West have been frosty at best. The Horn of Africa nation is often labelled “Africa’s North Korea” or described as a “prison state” by the press in the West. Meanwhile, the Eritrean government has rarely pulled its punches in hitting back at Western governments that it accuses of conspiring against it. Until recently. Over the past months, this long-standing standoff has notably softened, with both sides shifting in their approach and rhetoric. The Eritrean-American law graduate Rufael Tecle explains the reasons for the re-engagement and analyses how Europe should operate in Eritrea.

An ethiopian runner makes a brave gesture of anti-government protest at the olympic finish line
Defying Olympic rules and risking the wrath of his country's government, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa made a political gesture in support of the Oromo people after competing in the marathon during the last weekend of the Olympic Games in Brazil. Lilesa, who won a silver medal, crossed his arms to make an “X” at the finish line and during medal presentation. The sign is used by the Oromo people and their supporters in their protests against their repression by the Ethiopian government.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #12

Ghanaian President vows not to shut down social media during elections
After a long debate the Ghanaian president John Maham declared on August 14 that social media will not be shut down during the elections in December. African countries such as Uganda and Gabon have blocked social media platforms during elections citing security concerns. The supporters of a shutdown say that people could misuse social media to share false information while others say a shutdown would put Ghana’s democracy in question. In his article Global Voices blogger Kofi Yeboah takes a look at the debate about this issue.

“The blood flowing in Oromia is our blood too”: Why Oromo-Amhara solidarity is the greatest threat to the Ethiopian government
For over 20 years the Ethiopian government – led by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front - has pitted the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups against one another. Now the two groups, who make up around two-thirds of the population, are fighting together against the government’s oppression. “But how far can collective action based on shared grievances rather than a coherent set of shared ideals and visions go?” asks author Awol Allo, a lecturer at Keele University.

Put People First : A Case for Investing in Early Childhood Development
Most children in Uganda experience severe living conditions, with many households struggling to access basic necessities. Now the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has launched the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy for Uganda. Over a quarter of the population in Uganda is between the ages of 0 to 8 years. And since the development of children under the age of 8 has a lasting effect on the rest of their lives “there is no better time to invest our resources towards shaping that future than during the early childhood stage”, writes #AfricaBlogging author Masake Athony.

Black rage: Does anger justify the means?
In the context of the #FeesMustFall movement Melo Magolelo, author for thoughtleader, explores how the phenomenon ‘black rage’ seems to justify the protest actions. For him black rage is defined as “the psychological state born from the combination of being marginalized into silence and having to endure the continual violence of oppressive conditions”. In his text he criticizes that since 1994 no progress has been made in finding standards for protest actions by the state and he points out that burning libraries is not the only option.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #13

Why student protests in South Africa have turned violent
In recent weeks the #FeesMustFall student demonstrations at South African universities have seen an increase in the use of violent actions as a means of protest. Jane Duncan, a professor of journalism at the University of Johannesburg, describes how escalated policing socializes the protesters into violence, it creates solidarity with participants justifying the need for violence as a form of self-defence. “The sad reality is that the authorities often ignore peaceful, non-disruptive protests”, writes Duncan. She thinks the main problem is that universities overreacted which led to an escalation of the protests.

In Tanzania, Expressing Political Opinions on Social Media is Becoming Increasingly Dangerous
Since John Magufuli became president of Tanzania in October 2015, 14 people have been arrested and charged for insulting the president on social media, although only one citizen has been found guilty of these charges. Most were charged under the controversial Cybercrime Act, which was signed into law by former president Jakaya Kikwete in May 2015. In his article for Global Voices Ndesanjo Macha describes the cases where people have been charged for sharing their opinion on social media.

Zimbabwean Music and its Influence on Society
Music has always played an important part in Zimbabwe’s cultural history, dating back to the 1970s where music was used to mobilize the people in the war of liberation. In this time musicians mirrored the feelings of the society and their music inspired the people to fight the oppression. But the influence of music was not only limited to political or socio-economic issues, writes #Africablogging author Blessing Vava. Gospel music spread Christianity and changed the traditional music landscape. The newest music genre called Zimdancehall, with lyrics about topics such as drug abuse, has had an impact on the behavior of the youth today.

Ethiopian Authorities Send a Chilling Message to the Oromo People With Deadly Holiday Crackdown
On Sunday, October 2, at least 52 people were killed in a stampede during the Irreecha holiday, the most popular festival in Oromia. The incident happened before the Irreecha procession, when a protester took to the stage as a government official tried to give a speech and security forces responded with a series of gunshots leading to chaos as the marchers fled to seek shelter. “The violence there has shaken Ethiopia, as it appears to be the first assault by security forces on a major cultural and religious ritual of the Oromo people”, writes Endalk, lecturer at Arba Minch University.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #14

The AU tried and failed on Burundi. Now it’s time to try again
Last month the United Nations released a report that describes the violence committed by the Burundian government. The current crisis began in May 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would seek a third term in office which resulted in lots of violent anti-government protests. Since then the international communities, namely the African Union, the East African Community and the UN, have been unable to resolve the crisis in Burundi. Elissa Jobson, adviser on African Union Relations for International Crisis Group, proposes that the three actors should form a contact group so that the mediation process keeps going: “Postponing firmer, more unified action would leave the country at best in a permanent state of low-intensity conflict and at worst in danger of igniting a regional crisis”.

Remaining SABC Board members cannot make any legally binding decisions
Last week saw the resignation of two board members of the SABC, South Africa’s national broadcaster which means the remaining board members do not have a quorum and therefore cannot make any binding decisions any more. Another problem is that the board unlawfully appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng to a new position two weeks ago after the High Court declared his appointment as Chief Operations Officer of the SABC invalid. The Public Protector said that Motsoeneng is guilty of dishonesty and abuse of power which means that he is not qualified to be appointed to any post at the SABC. Pierre de Vos, who blogs at Constitutionally Speaking, writes that the National Assembly now has two options: “It can fill the existing vacancies on the Board, or it can dissolve the Board and instruct the President to appoint an interim Board.”

Failure of Due Process: Police infringe on Civil Liberties under the Public Order Management Act, 2013
Masake Anthony from Chapter Four Uganda writes about recent incidents where the Uganda Police Force has infringed on the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly under the Public Order Management Act (POMA) from 2013. In August the police raided an event organized by the LGBTI community stating that the organizers had to notify the police for the purpose of security. In September the police forcefully disbanded a peaceful prayer meeting of women activists even though they had signed the letter of notification about the event. So POMA’s objective “to ensure that conduct or behaviour conforms to the requirements of the Constitution” is being violated by the police who have made it a habit to escalate peaceful protests with violence.

Zimbabwe Bond Note Panic, Class and Other Considerations
Due to the failing economy in Zimbabwe it has been announced that bond notes will be introduced at the end of the month. Takura Zhangazha, writing for #AfricaBlogging, describes the effects of the bond notes on different classes of the society as they try to keep the US dollar value of their savings. The middle class for example has to think about their pensions, insurance savings and immovable property while small scale businesses say that it does not make a difference as long as the basic income stays the same. But in the end Zhangazha thinks that “those that are poor will remain exactly that. Those that are close to the state and private capital will stay better off.”

It's All Fine On Kenyan Roads And Why That's A Bad Thing
Last week the government of Kenya announced the introduction of instant traffic fines. In his article Patrick Gathara, of #AfricaBlogging, writes that the introduction of a new system of fines does not change the safety problems or end the bribes on the road. He thinks that it is only a way for the government to make money to fund the upcoming election.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #15

Flying African Airlines: Colonial Travels and Travails
Cross continental travelers are treated better than African travelers, writes #AfricaBlogging author Takura Zhangazha. In earlier times flying was a sign of wealth, but today it is affordable to more and more Africans across class and social status. But many travelers are Diasporans, so they only save money for one flight to go back to their former colonial capitals. Hence, there are more complications during flights between Africans countries because they are not very lucrative for the airlines.

Charges against finance minister show misuse of South African law
In her article Cathleen Powell, a Senior Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Cape Town, asks the question whether the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) followed the correct process in charging Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. She examines the charges of fraud and of theft and comes to the conclusion that “the reckless disregard of the substance and procedure of the law by the very state agencies which claim to protect and enforce it is ominous”.

Nigerian President Says First Lady ‘Belongs to My Kitchen’ and ‘The Other Room’
In his article for Global Voices Nwachukwu Egbunike sums up the reactions in social media after Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, on a state visit to Germany, said that his wife belongs in the kitchen. Some point out that the president’s statement reflects the situation in Nigeria where men marry 14 old girls. Also the name of republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came up because of his sexist comments.

6 reasons why we need to abolish the death penalty
Although no death row inmates in Uganda have been executed since 1999, the death penalty is still constitutional and the courts still sentence convicts to death. But there have been some improvements in the last years. For example, the court has already ruled that mandatory application of the death penalty is unconstitutional. But Masake Anthony thinks that capital punishment needs to be abolished totally and names six reasons for that in his article. His main argument is that “condemning a person to death is an act of terror, not justice”.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #16

What Would Nyerere Do?
Tanzania is hosting the King of Morocco. Chambi Chachage describes how in the past president Mwalimu Nyerere tried to stop Morocco from occupying Western Sahara and how Tanzania was known for supporting liberation struggles. Tanzania still wants Morocco to be a part of the African Union and believes that the people in Western Sahara should vote for self-determination. But at the same time the King’s visit is also an economic question as Morocco is investing in Tanzania.

Eight reasons to be concerned about the Somalia elections
In Somalia, the election of the Upper House members is already complete and the members of the Lower House are about to be elected. Sakariye Cismaan describes several reasons to be concerned about these elections. Although it is already a step forward from the last elections in 2012, where parliamentarians where chosen by traditional leaders, this time still 99 % of Somalis don’t get a vote. This is just one of the reasons the elections in Somalia are anything but perfect.

It’s not just Mutharika, it’s the system as well
The absence of the Malawian President Peter Mutharika after he attended the United Nations general assembly in New York caused a lot of speculation especially about his state of health as Malawians weren’t informed about his whereabouts. In a press conference Mutharika stated that he is not seriously ill and that he would not have left the good health care of America if this was true. His statement reveals the big problems that exist in Malawi’s system. For example: “In Malawi it is acceptable to use taxpayers money, the majority of whom cannot afford basic antibiotics, to fly out senior public and government officials for medical attention abroad” writes #AfricaBlogging author Jimmy Kainja.

Exiting the ICC: South Africa betrays the world and its own history
By exiting the International Criminal Court (ICC) South Africa is betraying its own history since Apartheid was a crime against humanity, writes Henning Melber, professor of political sciences in Pretoria, for The Conversation. The ICC is the most important instrument of global criminal jurisdiction, but more and more African countries want to withdrawal from the ICC starting with Burundi in October 2016. The ICC has been under attack for its interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, but defenders say that the ICC only prosecutes individuals, not states.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #17

Even if it passes, Côte d’Ivoire’s new constitution may not have any more legitimacy
Peter Penar writes about Côte d’Ivoire’s referendum on a new constitution under President Allassane Ouattara which passed on Sunday, two days after the article was published on African Arguments. The most disputed provisions of the constitution involve citizenship for immigrants with one Ivorian parent and the president being able to appoint a vice president. Opposition parties say there was no broad-based consultative process and only a very short time-frame for the Ivorians to debate on the constitution. Penar thinks that because of the controversies facing it, the new constitution may not have any more legitimacy than the one from 2000.

Where did the ANC get it wrong and can it redeem and re-invent itself?
In his thoughtleader column Thabang Motsohi answers two questions concerning the problems of South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC. He analyses the variables in the country’s social system that have impacted the problems of the ANC, like how the tri-party alliance has created policy uncertainty and how they have ignored demography as a critical variable and failed to create jobs for the unemployed and under-educated workforce, increasing the risk of social disruption. He paints quite a negative picture about the chances of the ANC to win back the public’s trust.

Sitting Down With The Devil – Talks with governments on ICT & Innovation
Rwanda is seen as a driving force in the field of information and communications technologies on the continent. Yet, after a visit to the very clean and safe Kigali, #AfricaBlogging writer Patrick Gathara considers the dangers of engaging governments in supporting digitally-driven innovation across Africa. He argues that the poverty in African countries does not come from a lack of innovation but from a lack of democracy. So the problem with digital innovation is that the government can “hide their sins under the carpet of innovation and broadband access”.

Ethiopia's Regime Faces Precarious Times as Diaspora Plans for the Future
The recent protests in Ethiopia have begun to have an effect on the regime as they erode the basic political and economic structures, presenting what writer Endalk calls “a watershed moment in modern Ethiopian political history”. Ethiopian diaspora communities in the United States and London have held two conferences to discuss regime change and constitutional reforms, but the gatherings have showed that the diaspora is divided by ethno nationalism and civic nationalism just as the conflict between the different ethnic groups remains an unsolved issue in Ethiopia.

State Capture: When does President Zuma’s silence become an admission of wrongdoing?
Two days ago, the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela's report on State Capture was released. This report contains facts to prove that President Jacob Zuma amongst others breached the Executive Members Ethics Act and the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. On his blog, Constitutionally Speaking, Pierre de Vos writes about the consequences of the report and that if Zuma and the others accused of corruption stay silent this might be proof of their guilt for the public. For now the Public Protector has instructed Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, which is problematic since the president could appoint a judge that is sympathetic to him.

Top of the Blogs 2016 #18

Obama- Africa Legacy, does it exist?
Ruth Aine asked several young people from different countries in Africa what they think about Obama's legacy for Africa and if there even was any. Most of them think that Obama as the first black president with a Kenyan father was an inspiration for black people all over the world. However some think that he hasn't done enough in terms of trade and investment for Africa, which is expected from the next president. (Ruth Aine collected the opinions before Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States.)

Zanu PF’s Complex Dominance Without Persuasion
How could Zimbabwe' ruling party, Zanu PF, remain in power for such a long time? Takura Zhangazha tries to answer this question in his article for #AfricaBlogging. He writes that the party's dominance is defined by coercion, collaboration and submission rather than democratic persuasion. Another aspect is that the opposition parties mimic the ruling party's policy of coercion. But still, "Zanu PF does not have the hegemony that it would want", writes Zhangazha.

Africa’s least loved leader marches on
The president of the DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, wants to hold on to power beyond his second term which ends in December. And he has gained international and domestic support for that: in October the majorité présidentielle (MP), an opposition faction and a group of civil society organisations signed an accord which says that Kabila can hold on to the presidency until the election of the next head of state in 2018. However, over 70 % of the population thinks that Kabila should step down in December. If he wants to stay in power despite his unpopularity, author William Clowes thinks that "Kabila will need to deploy ever more dishonest and violent means."

South African President Zuma Fights for Political Career After Corruption Report
Over a week after the State Capture Report has been released by the former Public Protector, there has been a lot of opinions circulating on social media platforms. Ndesanjo Macha collected some of them in an article for Global Voices. For example Max du Preez, a South African columnist tweeted "Expect the Zuma cabal & beneficiaries to subtly start campaigning for an upgrade of facilities in our prisons".

Top of the Blogs 2016 #19

Lessons For Kenya From The Trumpocalypse
In his #AfricaBlogging article Patrick Gathara describes how Trump’s election is a wakeup call and a lesson for Kenya. He compares the situation in western democracies, especially the USA, with the situation in Kenya since both governments ignored the discontent of the masses. In Kenya, this has led the people to elect “local versions of Trump”. Gathara writes that there is a crisis in democracies around the world and advises everyone to get engaged with the work of the governments so that they don’t only respond to the problems of the elites.

Central African Republic: It’s not all about the money
In the Central African Republic (CAR) there is instability throughout the country, but the president does not want to change the status quo since both the government and the rebel groups don’t want to make compromises that would make them lose their benefits. The country’s leadership is expecting international funding at the Donors Conference in Brussels to solve the problems of the CAR. But Enrica Picco writes that the problems can only be solved if the government “puts efforts into national negotiations aimed at finding agreed, sustainable and locally-driven solutions.” (The article was written before the Donors conference in Brussels on 17 November, which resulted in a €2 billion aid for the CAR.)

Cameroonian Government launches campaign against social media, Calls It “A New Form of Terrorism”
According to the Cameroonian government social media is used for misinformation and manipulation which is why they want content on social media to be monitored. The train accident close to the capital Yaounde, on October 21 is one of the most recent causes for the government’s campaign against social media. The accident resulted in the death of at least 80 people and injured over 600.People posted pictures of the accident even before the government admitted that it had happened. Others posted pictures of the overcrowded train, while the government claimed that everyone was seated. Dibussi Tande writes that it is no surprise the regime under President Paul Biya wants to control social media since it is used by those who want to change the government.

How strong social networks can help migrants manage health risks better
John Boateng, lecturer at the University of Ghana, writes about a study on the health status of migrants in Jamestown, a poorer neighbourhood of the country’s capital Accra, where diseases are common due to the poor living conditions. This region attracts the largest number of migrants in Ghana. The study looks at lifestyle factors as well as social factors and Boateng comes to the conclusion that the promotion of social and familial networks would make a big difference in helping migrants to get a better understanding about their health.