Top of the Blogs 2020 - Medienprogramm Subsahara-Afrika
To keep you updated on the issues discussed in the continent's blogger scene, we publish a "Top of the Blogs" at the end of each week - interesting new blog posts commenting on media, culture, politics and news from all over Africa.
Top of the Blogs 2020
This week we find out if another coup d'état is about to come to Zimbabwe. Simultaneously, Uganda's government is outlining a new tax on mobile data usage. Alpha Condé's ongoing scramble for a third presidential term makes a bad story worse in Guinea. Ghana's women are striving for empowerment in economy and politics. And we gather why African countries are in debt – and why that’s hard to change.
Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa under pressure?
At a press conference in early February, Zimbabwean youth politicians Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu claimed President Emmerson Mnangagwa was 'surrounded by criminals'. Both of them are members of the country's ruling ZANU-PF party. They subsequently lost their jobs as Deputy Secretary for Youth and Political Commissar. Suspiciously, their utterances sound quite similar to those which were used to justify the removal of Robert Mugabe from power in 2017. Blessing Vava analyses the current situation in a country still struggling from a poor economy and corruption, drawing parallels between the current situation and the incident that happened two years ago.
Uganda: The price of information
Uganda's social media policy, to put it diplomatically, can be considered as restrictive. An Over-The-Top social media service tax (OTT) which was established in 2018 already restricts access to digital networks and messengers such as Facebook and Whatsapp. In the aftermath, the usage dropped by 11% as at December 2018, with the country's poorest being hit the hardest. Now Ugandan Revenue Authority's Commissioner General Doris Akol has suggested that Internet data should be taxed directly – a blow that human rights activist Masake Anthony deems worthy of contempt.
Guinea: For – more years
Alpha Condé, Guinea's President since 2010, is struggling for a third term in office – which happens to be against the constitution. So Condé is going ahead by changing that composition of the law by holding a referendum which is highly disputed. Understandably, the opposition has shown little enthusiasm for this step, and has announced that it will boycott the legislative elections this February. In the meantime, the whole country is under strain. Medical student Alpha Omar Baldé allows us to gain insight into a clash we tend to ignore easily.
Ghana: Long road to emancipation
Ghana is a developing country with about 58% of its population aged between 15 and 35 years and – as everywhere – more than 50% are women. However, both groups have a negligible political influence. Nevertheless, empowering the youth and women plays a crucial role in the development of a society, says Emachivelli. In their analysis, the authors demonstrate that the more women are supported and empowered, the healthier families are. More children go to school as well, while agricultural production improves and incomes increase.
South Africa: Biting analysis
Regrettably, debt levels are on the rise in many African nations. In 2017, almost every second country was so much in the red that its ability to support its economy in the event of a recession was diminished, thereby making it vulnerable – according to the think tank, Brookings. However, much of this debt is being incurred through foreign currency denominated Eurobonds issued on international financial markets, according to the rules made by developed countries. The problem is not that African nations are borrowing too much, but rather that they are paying too much interest. That's at least the conclusion of South African financial lecturer Misheck Mutize, who proposes that African governments could find solutions if they got up and took action.
Top of the Blogs 2019
In this week’s Top of the Blogs, we are going to look at the reasons for Zimbabwe’s current food crisis. Meanwhile in Ethiopia, tensions are escalating between the central government and the Sidamas, who want more autonomy. The perceived impunity of Cameroon’s army comes under scrutiny. And Ivorians, along with fans all over the world, are paying homage to a DJ of many nicknames.
Zimbabwe: Bad harvests meet poor economics
5.5 million Zimbabweans will be food insecure by January 2020, according to the World Food Program. The drought during the start of this year’s planting season is one reason for this situation. Additionally, Cyclone Idai inflicted severe damage on the country. All this has caused the maize harvest to more than halve compared to last year. However, agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo points out that the government’s economic policies have aggravated this crisis further, instead of lessening its impact.
Ethiopia: Statehood for Sidamas?
Ethiopia’s federal system was designed to allow the country’s biggest ethnic groups a measure of self-government. However, the nine regional states are far from homogenous. More than 40 different ethnicities co-exist in the “Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region”. For the last two decades, the biggest group of them, the Sidamas, have been demanding a region of their own. A delayed referendum on the question has caused deadly fighting between activists and security forces recently. The political scientist Yohannes Gedamu warns that their secession could lead to the unraveling of Ethiopia’s federal system.
Cameroon’s army: “All powerful and untouchable”
In Cameroon, the army is fighting on two fronts: Boko Haram in the far North and Anglophone separatists in the West. Multiple cases of wrongdoing have been reported, where soldiers have burned houses and villages, tortured and executed presumed terrorists and humiliated young women in a crackdown on student protests. Although NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have spoken out about these abuses, they are rarely investigated. The Cameroonian blogger Fotso Fonkam describes the army’s impunity.
Ivory Coast: A country mourns its DJ
The Ivorian musician DJ Arafat has died at the age of 33. Born as Houon Ange Didier, the DJ took on many personas throughout his career. He was one of the most famous “coupé décalé” artists, who helped make this Ivorian style of music famous far beyond the Ivory Coast. For the blogger Luc Kouade, he was first and foremost an influencer, in every sense of the word: “Until proven otherwise, Dj Arafat, the Daishikan, remains the only public figure (excluding politics) who, alongside his music, knew how to influence the actions of his fans.”